A monologue from the play by Molière

NOTE: This translation by Henri van Laun was first published in The Dramatic Works of Molière. New York: R. Worthington Publishers, 1880. It is now a public domain work and may be performed without royalties.

SGANARELLE: Nobody should bear such affronts as these tamely, unless indeed he be a fool. Let us therefore hasten to hunt out this rascal who has insulted me, and let me prove my courage by avenging my dishonour. I will teach you, you rogue, to laugh at my expense, and to cuckold people without showing them any respect. [After going three or four steps he comes back again.] But gently, if you please, this man looks as if he were hot-headed and passionate; he may, perhaps, heaping one insult upon another, ornament my back as well as he has done my brow. I detest, from the bottom of my heart, these fiery tempers, and vastly prefer peaceable people. I do not care to beat for fear of being beaten; a gentle disposition was always my predominant virtue. But my honour tells me that it is absolutely necessary I should avenge such an outrage as this. Let honour say whatever it likes, the deuce take him who listens. Suppose now I should play the hero, and receive for my pains an ugly thrust with a piece of cold steel quite through my stomach; when the news of my death spreads through the whole town, tell me then, my honour, shall you be the better of it? The grave is too melancholy an abode, and too unwholesome for people who are afraid of the colic; as for me, I find, all things considered, that it is, after all, better to be a cuckold than to be dead. What harm is there in it? Does it make a man's legs crooked? Does it spoil his shape? The plague take him who first invented being grieved about such a delusion, linking the honour of the wisest man to anything a fickle woman may do. Since every person is rightly held responsible for his own crimes, how can our honour, in this case, be considered criminal? We are blamed for the actions of other people. If our wives have an intrigue with any man, without our knowledge, all the mischief must fall upon our backs; they commit the crime and we are reckoned guilty. It is a villainous abuse, and indeed Government should remedy such injustice. Have we not enough of other accidents that happen to us whether we like them or not? Do not quarrels, lawsuits, hunger, thirst, and sickness sufficiently disturb the even tenour of our lives? and yet we must stupidly get it into our heads to grieve about something which has no foundation. Let us laugh at it, despise such idle fears, and be above sighs and tears. If my wife has done amiss, let her cry as much as she likes, but why should I weep when I have done no wrong? After all, I am not the only one of my fraternity, and that should console me a little. Many people of rank see their wives cajoled, and do not say a word about it. Why should I then try to pick a quarrel for an affront, which is but a mere trifle? They will call me a fool for not avenging myself, but I should be a much greater fool to rush on my own destruction!