Masters and servants share a paradoxical equality and intimacy in several works of Western literature and drama. Think of Lear and his Fool, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza and, in this rarely presented play of Moliere's, Don Juan and Sganarelle. The masters are in the grip of some consuming passion or obsession; the servants try to sober them up with an occasional cold splash of common sense.
In this treatment, the servant's dicta are generally recognized as the dry-witted, earthy folk wisdom of vox populi. What is more interesting, and not generally recognized, is that the servant also speaks to...