The Barber of Seville

Comic Variations on the Unpredictability of Human Life: The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro College

In both Le Barbier de Seville and Le Mariage de Figaro, Beaumarchais uses a variety of comic techniques, such as the parodying of existing forms, comedy of intrigue, satire and farce. However, Beaumarchais’ comedy is interweaved with more serious, and often tragic overtones, which often come through in revealing character monologues. In both plays, through character, plot and form, Beaumarchais demonstrates that human life is very much characterized by its unpredictable nature. Even with the strongest willpower, we are often not in control of our fate as chance, accidents, the interference of others and even the rigidity of society all act as obstacles that disrupt life’s path.

Figaro, as the protagonist who tends to thread the narratives of the three plays together more than any other, and who is indeed the eponymous ‘hero’ of the second and most famous play, is characterized more than anything else by his willpower. He is the one who thinks up the cunning plan for the Count to dress as a soldier and drunkenly asks Bartholo for lodging in order to get into his house, and displays an urgency more than the Count himself to carry out the plan; ‘Monseigneur, la difficulté de réussir ne fait qu’aujouter à la nécessité d’...

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