Les Précieuses ridicules is a biting comedy of manners that brought Molière and his company to the attention of Parisians, after they had toured the provinces for years. The play received its Paris premiere on November 18, 1659 at the Théâtre du Petit-Bourbon. It seems not to have been staged before that in the provinces. It was highly successful and attracted the patronage of Louis XIV to Molière and company. Les Précieuses ridicules still plays well today.
Les précieuses are Magdelon and Cathos, two young women from the provinces who have come to Paris in search of love and jeux d'esprit.
Gorgibus, the father of Magdelon and uncle of Cathos, decides they should marry a pair of eminently eligible young men but the two women find the men unrefined and ridicule them. The men vow to take revenge on les précieuses.
On stage comes Mascarille, a young man who pretends to be a sophisticated man of the world. Magdelon falls in love with him. Next on stage comes another young man, Jodelet, with whom Cathos falls in love.
It turns out that these two men, Mascarille and Jodelet, are impostors. They are the valets of *the first two men who were scorned and rejected. As the curtain falls, Gorgibus and les précieuses are left covered with shame.
In the provinces, the young ladies' Parisian pretensions merited mockery, and in Paris, their puffed-up provincial naiveté and self-esteem proved laughable, and Molière pleased all possible audiences.
The role of the Marquis de Mascarille was originally played by Molière himself while the role of Magdelon was first played by Madeleine Béjart.