Synopsis of "The Marriage of Figaro" by Beaumarchais

by Robert Godard

"The Marriage of Figaro" is a comedic play written by Pierre Beaumarchais in 1778. The play is the second part of Beaumarchais' Figaro Trilogy, which also includes "The Barber of Seville" and "The Guilty Mother." The play was adapted into an opera of the same name by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1786.

Act I

The play begins shortly before the marriage of Figaro and Suzanne, in the room of the Count. Suzanne tells Figaro that the Count is in love with her, and has made several advances. Meanwhile, Marceline discusses her lawsuit with Figaro, who owes her quite a bit of money. If he cannot pay the sum, he will be forced to marry her, though his marriage to Suzanne has voided this contract. Suzanne talks to Cherubin, who has been fired by the Count, then to the Count, only to be interrupted by Bazile, who believes that the Count and Cherubin are having an illicit affair. The Count says that this is not true, and sends Cherubin away to be a solider.

Act II

Suzanne decides to tell the Countess about the Count's attentions, and she becomes distressed. Figaro enters and details his plan to spread a rumor that the Countess is having an affair, so that the Count will become suspicious and distracted enough to let his wedding ceremony continue. Suzanne and the Countess hatch their own plan to dress Cherubin as Suzanne to seduce the Count. However, the Count comes into the Countess' room as they are dressing Cherubin and finds Cherubin as he is trying to escape, half dressed as a woman, though Figaro claims that it was him.

Act III

Suzanne agrees to begin an affair with the Count, though the Count overhears that this may be just to help with Figaro's case. Figaro's trial with Marceline begins soon after, when it is discovered that Figaro is actually Marceline's son, after the Count rules on the side of Marceline to marry Figaro. Figaro is delighted to meet his parents, but is told he cannot marry Suzanne because he was an illegitimate child.

Act IV

From here, the play progresses through a series of plot twists, including Cherubin being married to the Count's other lover Franchette, as well as Bazile intending to marry Marceline, but changing his mind after finding out that Figaro is her illegitimate son. Figaro tells Suzanne that she must not carry out on her promise to the Countess to pursue the Count's advantages, but the Countess convinces her to do so anyway. Figaro learns that Suzanne may have been in private correspondence with the Count and seeks revenge on both the Count and Suzanne.

Act V

Figaro gathers together a group of men and engages in a lengthy monologue against the aristocratic class and his own state of unhappiness. He plans to use these men to ambush Suzanne and the Count and use it as a grounds for divorce. The Countess and Suzanne enter in each other's clothes and Figaro approaches who he believes to be the Countess, but it is actually Suzanne. She reprimands him for his lack of trust. They kiss when the Count walks in, and he believes Figaro to be kissing his own wife. The Countess reveals herself after the group of men enter, and the Count begs for forgiveness, which he is given.

About the Author

Robert Godard began writing in 2007 for various creative blogs and academic publications. He has been featured on multiple film blogs and has worked in the film industry. He attended Baltimore College, earning his B.A. in history.

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