The play is set on a fictitious Ancient Greek island inhabited with exiles, nobles from the Ancient Times such as Arthénice and Timagène, and Modern gentlemen and gentlewomen like Mr and Madam Sorbin. The population of the island urges Timagène and Mr Sorbin to write the laws of the colony. Arthénice, loved by Timagène, and Madam Sorbin, seize the opportunity to rebel against marculine tyranny and reclaim the right to pass laws too. In her speech to the women's assembly, Arthénice unveils Marivaux's arguments to support women's right to equality, stating that their inferiority is only due to their lack of education. But Madam Sorbin divides their support by passing the law that women should all become ugly, so that men would not woo them and they would not risk being enslaved once more. The men try to appease the insurrection by reminding the women of what they call their duties, but they lack arguments and pretexts against the women's inexhaustible eloquence. Timagène eventually finds a way to stop them, by pretending that the colony is attacked and the women will have to take arms and defend their land. They then accept to go home and let the men fight an imagined menace, when Timagène promises them that their rights and interests will be taken into consideration in the new statuses of the colony.