The Game of Love and Chance Background

The Game of Love and Chance Background

Marivaux, French writer of the 18th century composed The Game of Love and Chance, a three-act romantic comedy that was first displayed on January the 23rd of 1730 by the Théâtre-Italien in the Hôtel de Bourgogne, one of the most famous Parisian theaters of that time. In a way, Marivaux presents a manifesto against the tradition of marriages of convenience that was predominant. Despite the playful tone of the play, it tackles important themes of human nature, social condition and marriage through a form of comedy unique to Marivaux where feelings are described skillfully and psychological analysis is subtle.

Like many of Marivaux's plays, The Game of Love and Chance uses the theme of disguise where characters take the appearance of others to achieve their goals. Moreover, it features stock characters from the Italian Commedia dell'arte, such as Arlequin, as well as characters that were previously seen in his other plays such as Lisette. The Game of Love and Chance had a promising start as it was well-received by the public. All in all, it was performed more than fifteen times in the first month of its representation and continued to be played all over the world in the years following its release, notably in Germany where it was remarkably famous.

The play follows the story of Silvia, a young woman who is promised to marry Dante, a man she knows nothing of. Before settling down, she obtains her father's permission to exchange identities with her maid Lisette in order to know Dante better. However, what she doesn't know is that Dante has the same idea for the same motives and decides to exchange identities with his valet, Arlequin. A series of misunderstandings will lead them both in a game of love and chance through innocuous banter and uncertain feelings.

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