Set in the 17th century, Molière’s Drama, Le Tartuffe is a satirical representation of religious hypocrisy. Its comedy drives the play in a direction where the audience can not only be entertained but understand the morals which are portrayed. It is important to realise the historical context that influenced Molière’s work of Le Tartuffe in order to understand the construction of the characters and comedy portrayed. Commedia dell’arte were a group of traveling players in Italy who specialised in improvised theatre, creating stock characters for every performance for the audience to identify with and understand their representation in a comic way. Some of these features have been known to have inspired Molière’s construction of the plot and characters such as Clever talking Dorine shedding light on the truth. In that way, Dorine almost acts as a comedic dramatic tool to highlight the truths and themes of the play. This is particularly evident in her dialogue towards Madame Pernelle, ‘Il passe pour un saint dans votre fantaisie:/Tout son fait, croyez-moi, n’est rein qu’hypocrisie’(Molière: 1.1.69) In supporting this idea, Peter Hampshire Nurse writes that Dorine has ‘brilliant wit with which she ridicules hypocrisy’ (1991:85). Although the majority of modern audience’s would find the witty servant humorous, Paula Alekson noted that ‘Molière became a master of “Le ridicule”, so much so that in the process of making the audiences laugh, he made a multitude of serious enemies’(2007:ll 15-16). Away from the controversy that the themes created, Molière generates much more of the comedy in terms of language, structure and pace of the play. For example in the exposition, when Madame Pernelle talks to the rest of the characters, we are able to see the desire of power towards the daughters as they try to speak by saying, ‘Mais....Je crois…mais ma mere’ (Molière:1.1)but are cut off every time. Furthermore, repetition is used when Orgon says, ‘Et Tartuffe?/ Le pauvre home!...
Bibliography: Molière, 2006. Le Tartuffe. Paris: Larousse.
Alekson, Paula. 2007.Dramatic and Theatrical Style à la Molière: Le ridicule, le naturel, and “The comic war”. [online] Available at: http://www.mccarter.org/Education/tartuffe/html/4.html
Calder, Andrew. 1973. Molière: The Theory and Practice of Comedy.London:Athlone
Nurse, Peter Hampshire,1991.Molière and The Comic Spirit.Genève:Libraire Droz
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