The Marriage of Figaro Symbols, Allegory and Motifs
These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community.
We are thankful of their contributions and encourage you to make your own.
Written by Calypso Carol
Assuming Other Characters' Identities Motif
More than anything else, the trickery created by Figaro in this play is centered around characters dressing up as someone else; the play has a constant motif of assuming the identity of another through clothing. This is seen chiefly at the climax of the novel, when Suzanne and Rosine where each other's clothes in order to trick and humiliate the Count, but also throughout, such as when Cherubin is seen escaping through the dressing room window and is reasonably believed to be Figaro. The notion of identity being primarily seen as the clothes being worn is a motif that the author explores more as the play progresses.
Men Dressing as Women Motif
Gender roles are often switched in plays of this era; in fact, the term "trouser role" was created to explain that the role of a male character was in fact to be played by a woman. Cherubin is one such character and this fact adds to the confusion his character creates within the plot of the play. Cherubin is a male character, played by a female actor. who is frequently disguised as a female within the plot (young shepherdess, or as "Suzanne" to humiliate the Count) This story line for Cherubin continues throughout the play and this is therefore a constant motif within it and one that is integral to the plot and the outcome.
Communication By Manuscript Symbol
In The Barber of Seville, the Count communicates with Rosine via music manuscript. In this play, Suzanne and Rosine write a letter to the Count ostensibly from "Suzanne" telling him that she will accede to his request to start an affair and that she will meet him in the garden after her wedding; they write this note in the form of a musical ditty, on manuscript paper. This is a symbol of the way in which he communicates when he pursues a young woman for a relationship and in some ways it can also be seen as a subtle symbol from Rosine, as the paper is a symbol of their communication and therefore a hint to him that she is the real writer of the note.
Decorative Pin Symbol
When Suzanne and Rosine write the note to the Count, Suzanne seals it using a decorative pin from her dress. He gives this to Fanchette to return to her but Fanchette loses it and is distraught, telling Figaro about her upset. He immediately sees the pin as a symbol of secret communication between his wife and the Count.
Although the text does not clearly specify what the mark on Figaro's arm actually is (tattoo? birth mark?) it is a symbol to Marcheline that he is the son she gave up and a symbol that she is his mother.
Update this section!
You can help us out by revising, improving and updating