The Imaginary Invalid


E-text prepared by Charles Franks, Delphine Lettau,
and the Project Online Distributed Proofreading Team

HTML version prepared by Delphine Lettau

















This is the last comedy written by Molière. He was very ill, nearly dying, at the time he wrote it. It was first acted at the Palais Royal Theatre, on February 10, 1673.

Molière acted the part of Argan.




Argan, an imaginary invalid.
Béline, second wife to Argan.
Angélique, daughter to Argan, in love with Cléante.
Louison, Argan’s young daughter, sister to Angélique.
Béralde, brother to Argan.
Cléante, lover to Angélique.
Mr. Diafoirus, a physician.
Thomas Diafoirus, his son, in love with Angélique.
Mr. Purgon, physician to Argan.
Mr. Fleurant, an apothecary.
Mr. de Bonnefoi, a notary.
Toinette, maid-servant to Argan.






SCENE I.——ARGAN (sitting at a table, adding up his apothecary’s bill with counters).

Arg. Three and two make five, and five make ten, and ten make twenty. “Item, on the 24th, a small, insinuative clyster, preparative and gentle, to soften, moisten, and refresh the bowels of Mr. Argan.” What I like about Mr. Fleurant, my apothecary, is that his bills are always civil. “The bowels of Mr. Argan.” All the same, Mr. Fleurant, it is not enough to be civil, you must also be reasonable, and not plunder sick people. Thirty sous for a clyster! I have already told you, with all due respect to you, that elsewhere you have only charged me twenty sous; and twenty sous, in the language of apothecaries, means only ten sous. Here they are, these ten sous. “Item, on the said day, a good detergent clyster, compounded of double catholicon rhubarb, honey of roses, and other ingredients, according to the prescription, to scour, work, and clear out the bowels of Mr. Argan, thirty sons.” With your leave, ten sous. “Item, on the said day, in the evening, a julep, hepatic, soporiferous, and somniferous, intended to promote the sleep of Mr. Argan, thirty-five sous.” I do not complain of that, for it made me sleep very well. Ten, fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen sous six deniers. “Item, on the 25th, a good purgative and corroborative mixture, composed of fresh cassia with Levantine senna and other ingredients, according to the prescription of Mr. Purgon, to expel Mr. Argan’s bile, four francs.” You are joking, Mr. Fleurant; you must learn to be reasonable with patients; Mr. Purgon never ordered you to put four francs. Tut! put three francs, if you please. Twenty; thirty sous.1 “Item, on the said day, a dose, anodyne and astringent, to make Mr. Argan sleep, thirty sous.” Ten sous, Mr. Fleurant. “Item, on the 26th, a carminative clyster to cure the flatulence of Mr. Argan, thirty sous.” “Item, the clyster repeated in the evening, as above, thirty sous.” Ten sous, Mr. Fleurant. “Item, on the 27th, a good mixture composed for the purpose of driving out the bad humours of Mr. Argan, three francs.” Good; twenty and thirty sous; I am glad that you are reasonable. “Item, on the 28th, a dose of clarified and edulcorated whey, to soften, lenify, temper, and refresh the blood of Mr. Argan, twenty sous.” Good; ten sous. “Item, a potion, cordial and preservative, composed of twelve grains of bezoar, syrup of citrons and pomegranates, and other ingredients, according to the prescription, five francs.” Ah! Mr. Fleurant, gently, if you please; if you go on like that, no one will wish to be unwell. Be satisfied with four francs. Twenty, forty sous. Three and two are five, and five are ten, and ten are twenty. Sixty-three francs four sous six deniers. So that during this month I have taken one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight mixtures, and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve clysters; and last month there were twelve mixtures and twenty clysters. I am not astonished, therefore, that I am not so well this month as last. I shall speak to Mr. Purgon about it, so that he may set the matter right. Come, let all this be taken away. (He sees that no one comes, and that he is alone.) Nobody. It’s no use, I am always left alone; there’s no way of keeping them here. (He rings a hand-bell.) They don’t hear, and my bell doesn’t make enough noise. (He rings again.) No one. (He rings again.) Toinette! (He rings again.) It’s just as if I didn’t ring at all. You hussy! you jade! (He rings again.) Confound it all! (He rings and shouts.) Deuce take you, you wretch!



Toi. Coming, coming.

Arg. Ah! you jade, you wretch!

Toi. (pretending to have knocked her head). Bother your impatience! You hurry me so much that I have knocked my head against the window-shutter.

Arg. (angry). You vixen!

Toi. (interrupting Argan). Oh!

Arg. There is …

Toi. Oh!

Arg. For the last hour I …

Toi. Oh!

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