La Farce du Pont aux Anes relies heavily on the physical comedy typical of farces, and by physical comedy I mean beating a woman. Like La Farce du Cuvier, the husband is emasculated by his wife who does nothing. The husband goes to seek advice and is told to go observe the donkeys on the bridge. He sees that one can only make a donkey move by beating it, and takes it as a metaphor where his wife is the donkey. In the period, women were not allowed to perform onstage, and so the physical violence acted out on stage is not against a women, but a crossdressed man. Still, the prevalence of physical violence as a raw material for comedy is a troubling reflection of the status of women in society and its expectations of them. We will continue to see this comic material even in the work of Molière, despite the fact that his women are more developed and independant agents in their own lives.
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M.A. French Literature Florida State University