Introduction to Literature
Moliere play Love is the Doctor (L'Amour Medecin)
Following his disastrous experience with Le Tartuffe and the hardly more happy fate of Dom Juan, Molière was called upon, at the shortest of notice, to provide an entertainment for the court. The result is Love's The Best Doctor. Some critics have found in it a harshness which they have regarded as symptomatic of Molière's mood at that time, but it is difficult to see the justification for such a view. His own preface seems to give an adequate estimate of the play. What is new, or developed at length for the first time, is the satire on doctors, which he was to elaborate in Le Médecin malgré lui and Le Malade imaginaire. (Moliere & Wood, 1953) For Molière the setback was serious and the disappointment acute, but his output did not slacken-with the limited play-going public of Paris of that day new plays were a constant necessity. Nevertheless his attitude hardens. He is no longer content to assert that the test of a play lies in its ability to please. The function of comedy is now to castigate folly and vice and when in an attempt, as it would seem, to cut a way out of his difficulties, he chose for his new play one of the most popular themes of the day, the story of Don Juan, where the known plot required that religion should triumph and unbelief be confounded, he produced one of the most enigmatic and powerful of his comedies, a masterpiece, in the circumstances, of artistic intransigence! It provoked a fierce renewal of polemics against him, but it was played to full houses. (Moliere & Wood, 1953) The doctors in the play appear to have represented real people under the pseudo Greek names. Des-Fonandrés, the man-killer, was a wellknown physician, Des Fougeraux; Macrotin, the slow of speech, was Guénant, physician to the Queen; Tomés, the blood-letter, was d'Aquin, the King's own physician. The text used for the...