In critical readings of ten of Moliere's most important plays, this book argues that a rivalry that endangers order by collapsing differences structures the works and provides a key to their understanding. Moliere's great comic characters all want desperately something that they cannot have. The objects of their desire may vary, but the presence of desire itself remains a constant. In L'Ecole des femmes. Amolphe wants, above all, to avoid cuckoldry. The title character in Dom Juan covets women. The bourgeois Monsieur Jourdain does all in his power to become a gentleman in Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, and the eponymous character in George Dandin views his woes as the price of an ill-fated marriage that he had hoped would elevate him to noble rank. Le malade imaginaire, Argan, has a seemingly crazy desire to be sick. The list could go on.