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Молчалин vs Чацкий: Французская галантная традиция и её критика в комедии «Горе от ума» А.С. Грибоедова

 The issue of ideological and cultural background of the confrontation between Chatsky and Molchalin — two main characters of A. Griboedov’s play “Woe from Wit” — began to attract   researchers` interest as early as XIX century. The behavior of Moscow aristocracy, personified by low-born Molchalin, is based on standards developed by classical French gallant culture of XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries, marked by the concepts of “gentleness,” “politeness,” “courtesy.” Ideal masculine behavior in Moscow is based on the necessity of submission to women, portrayed as being invested with almost absolute power. Manners of Chatsky, recently come back from Europe, and his relations with women, demonstrate his adherence to a more recent patriarchal concept of Rousseauesque “state of nature,” intrinsic to the late Enlightenment culture. It confronts women`s dominance as unnatural deviation from the principles of nature. The conflict between Chatsky and Molchalin becomes symptomatic of a deeper opposition of models and value systems within aristocratic culture.