1) Based on an eponymous short story by Marmontel, the play narrates the reformation of the Ottoman court through the good offices of a French woman, Roxelane.
This comes through in the repeated references to the sultan as warrior in both battlefield and bedroom-as in Delia's encomium: "Tu lances les tralts de l'amour / Tu lances les feux du tonnerre" (336-337)--and in the duet where both Delia and Roxelane hail Soliman as the universal object of desire: "[U]n maitre / Qui doit etre / L'objet de tous nos desirs" (971-973).
When Roxelane introduces wine to the court, it is up to Osmin to try it first, thus preceding his master in the dangerous world of extra-Islamic license.
17) Roxelane initially refuses to so much as utter Osmin's name, preferring to point and call him, "cet oiseau de mauvais augure" or "un vrai monstre amphibie" (405).
Roxelane is well aware of the mediator's formative influence on the ruler, and tells the sultan in no uncertain terms that she would make a far better teacher--and mediator--because she has the sultan's best interest at heart, "Je veux faire de vous un sultan accompli / C'est un soin que je veux bien prendre" (445--6).
Indeed, slavery and servile behavior are as foreign to Roxelane as they are familiar to the sultan and his women: "Point d'esclaves chez nous; on ne respire en France / Que les plaisirs, la liberte, l'aisance" (579-580).
Favart would have us believe that Roxelane proves a better partner for the sultan than Osmin because she is better able to form the "rapport d'amour" with Soliman, and is better at mediating the sultan's relationship with himself.
At the end of the play, we are shown the marriage, not only of Soliman and Roxelane, but of the idioms of love and justice, which is how Soliman explains the attraction: "Ne crois pas que ce soit le caprice, / Qui m'entraine vers elle; Osmin; c'est la justice, I C'est la raison, c'est la vertu" (1294-1296).
A Mine de Pompadour, dont le role de Roxelane celebrait d'une certaine facon le triomphe.