Article Title

Who Counts in Farquhar?


Derek Hughes


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Le Nozze di Figaro opens with a man counting, as Figaro contentedly measures out the dimensions of his and Susanna's bedroom, only to have his contentment disturbed when she explains the real sexual geography of the place: its proximity to the Count's apartments. Complacently reciting the statistics of the bedroom (his first twelve utterances are numbers), Figaro functionally identifies counting with the exercise-or illusion--of male control, and in Don Giovanni the identification is renewed, and taken to unsurpassed heights, in Leporello' s catalogue aria, which features what is probably the most celebrated of all theatrical acts of counting: "Ma in Espagna son gia mille e tre." But the association between ordered enumeration and male mastery had been established many generations before: in the first speech in A Midsummer Night's Dream, for example, Theseus counts the time that remains before his possession of Hippolyta; and, in the last speech by a mortal, he concludes the countdown.1 And, throughout Farquhar's plays, the leading males count, and count, and count.

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