Arnolphe is a wealthy, middle-aged man with no children of his own. He has, however, brought up his young ward, Agnes, by educating her in a convent and insulating her from the real world….and men. In return, he plans on marrying Agnes once she is of age, despite the reservations of his friend, Chrysalde. Arnolphe believes that, by shielding Agnes from the world, he has ensured her lifelong devotion and has created the perfect, dutiful wife. Now that Agnes is of marrying age, he moves her into his house and plans to soon wed her.
However, Horace, the son of Arnolphe’s friend, Oronte, has also fallen in love with Agnes. She has told Horace how her guardian, a “Monsieur de la Souche”, keeps her hidden away, but Horace is unaware that Monsieur de la Souche and Arnolphe are one and the same. As such, Horace reveals his plans to elope with Agnes in secret. Worried that his plan is falling apart, Arnolphe confronts Agnes about her relationship with Horace. In the confusion that ensues, Agnes believes that Arnolphe supports her decision to marry Horace. Realizing what has happened, Arnolphe locks Agnes away and sends for the notary to prepare the marriage contract between himself and his ward.
Both Horace and Arnolphe are desperate to keep hold of Agnes, but Arnolphe does everything in his power to foil Horace’s attempts to rescue his true love from the clutches of “Monsieur de la Souche”. Finally, Agnes’ father reappears in his daughter’s life and agrees to the marriage of his daughter to Horace, foiling all of Arnolphe’s plans.
The School For Wives guide sections