ACT THREE
Scene XII
 

(Monsieur Jourdain, Madame Jourdain, Cléonte, Lucile, Covielle, Nicole)

CLÉONTE
Sir, I did not want to use anyone to make a request of you that I have long considered. It affects me enough for me to take charge of it myself; and, without further ado, I will say to you that the honor of being your son-in-law is a glorious favor that I beg you to grant me.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN
Before giving you a reply, sir, I beg to ask if you are a gentleman.

CLÉONTE
Sir, most people don't hesitate much over this question. They use the word carelessly. They take the name without scruple, and the usage of today seems to validate the theft. As for me, I confess to you, I have a little more delicate feelings on this matter. I find all imposture undignified for an honest man, and that there is cowardice in disguising what Heaven made us at birth; to present ourselves to the eyes of the world with a stolen title; to wish to give a false impression. I was born of parents who, without doubt, held honorable positions. I have six years of service in the army, and I find myself established well enough to maintain a tolerable rank in the world; but despite all that I certainly have no wish to give myself a name to which others in my place might believe they could pretend, and I will tell you frankly that I am not a gentleman.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN
Shake hands, Sir! My daughter is not for you.

CLÉONTE
What?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN
You are not a gentleman. You will not have my daughter.

MADAME JOURDAIN
What are you trying to say with your talk of gentleman? Are we ourselves of the line of St. Louis?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN
Quiet, wife, I see what you are up to.

MADAME JOURDAIN
Aren't we both descended from good bourgeois families?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN
There's that hateful word!

MADAME JOURDAIN
And wasn't your father a merchant just like mine?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN
Plague take the woman! She never fails to do this! If your father was a merchant, so much the worse for him! But, as for mine, those who say that are misinformed. All that I have to say to you is, that I want a gentleman for a son-in-law.

MADAME JOURDAIN
It's necessary for your daughter to have a husband who is worthy of her, and it's better for her to have an honest rich man who is well made than an impoverished gentleman who is badly built.

NICOLE
That's true. We have the son of a gentleman in our village who is the most ill formed and the greatest fool I have ever seen.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN
Hold your impertinent tongue! You always butt into the conversation. I have enough money for my daughter, I need only honor, and I want to make her a marchioness.

MADAME JOURDAIN
A marchioness?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN
Yes, marchioness.

MADAME JOURDAIN
Alas! God save me from it!

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN
It's a thing I have resolved.

MADAME JOURDAIN
As for me, it's a thing I'll never consent to. Marriages above one's station are always subject to great inconveniences. I have absolutely no wish for a son-in-law who can reproach her parents to my daughter, and I don't want her to have children who will be ashamed to call me their grandmother. If she arrives to visit me in the equipage of a great lady and if she fails, by mischance, to greet someone of the neighborhood, they wouldn't fail immediately to say a hundred stupidities. "Do you see," they would say, "this madam marchioness who gives herself such glorious airs? It's the daughter of Monsieur Jourdain, who was all too glad, when she was little, to play house with us; she's not always been so haughty as she now is; and her two grandfathers sold cloth near St. Innocent's Gate. They amassed wealth for their children, they're paying dearly perhaps for it now in the other world, and one can scarcely get that rich by being honest." I certainly don't want all that gossip, and I want, in a word, a man who will be obliged to me for my daughter and to whom I can say, "Sit down there, my son-in-law, and have dinner with me."

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN
Surely those are the sentiments of a little spirit, to want to remain always in a base condition. Don't talk back to me: my daughter will be a marchioness in spite of everyone. And, if you make me angrier, I'll make a duchess of her.

MADAME JOURDAIN
Cléonte, don't lose courage yet. Follow me, my daughter, and tell your father resolutely that, if you can't have him, you don't want to marry anyone.