Le Marchand de coups de bâton


16 pages

Le Marchand de coups de bâton

| 1862 | Paris, France
Arlequin, Le Suisse, Le Mendiant, Le Paysan, Cassandre, L'Apothicaire, Mme Cassandre, Le Gendarme, Le Commissaire, Pierrot, Le Roi, Le Héraut
Number of acts

The plot of this farce is based on a traditional motif of glove puppet theatre: a poor character (in this case Arlequin) gets rich by setting up a business in beating people with sticks. Beyond the farce, Duranty, like Molière, unmasks human nature: petty, vindictive and violent.

Plot summary

Wealth, marriage and social climbing through the 'blows-with-a-stick' business

The king's daughter is to be married, but she will only marry a man who is both rich and intelligent. Known for his wit, Arlequin arrives at the palace, only to be beaten back with a stick by the Swiss guard at the entrance. Desperate, he confides his misadventure to a beggar, who suggests that he should become rich by setting up a business in beating people with sticks. Arlequin decides to do so. The customers, who come in great numbers, make his fortune. But Arlequin, increasingly revolted by their wickedness, ends up beating his customers with a stick. Rich enough and threatened with hanging by the Commissaire, he gives his business to Pierrot for free. Pierrot hangs the Commissaire, who has come to hang him, and comes to ask Arlequin for an explanation. Thanks to his wealth and wit, Arlequin is able to marry the princess and have Pierrot appointed as the new Commissaire.

Related works
Le Marchand de coups de bâton1911
Composition date

First performance

Paris, France,

Théâtre des marionnettes du jardin des Tuileries

Publications and translations


Duranty, Théâtre des marionnettes du jardin des Tuileries, texte et composition des dessins par M. Duranty, Paris, MM. Dubuisson et Cie, Editeurs-Libraires, 1862.

Modern edition

Louis Edmond Duranty, Théâtre des marionnettes, Arles, Actes sud, Coll. Babel, 1995. ISBN: 978-2-7427-0652-5

  • Louis Duranty, Merchant of blows-with-a-stick and other plays (English and French edition), english translation by Sean Keohane, Charlemagne Press (Canada) 2007, [266 p.], ISBN-13: 978-0-921845-26-3

Literary tones
Farcical, Satirical, Comical
Animations techniques
All audiences
Public domain


Theatrical techniques



Written by

Carole Guidicelli