DE World Lit.
Jean-Baptist Poqeulin (known by his stage name, Moliere) was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. He devoted his entire life to the creation stage of illusion, as playwright and as a an actor. At about the age of twenty-five, he joined a company of traveling players established by the bejart family; with them he toured the provinces for about twelve years. In 1658, the company was ordered to perform for Louis XIV in Paris, a year later, Moliere’s first great success, The High-Brow Ladies, was produced. The company he was with became increasingly successful, It developed into the Comededie-Francaise. Moliere wrote both broad farce and comedies of character, in which he caricatured some form of vice or folly by embodying it in a single figure. His targets included the miser. The aspiring but vulgar middle class, female would-be intellectuals, the hypochondriac, in Tartuffe, the religious hypocrite. In Tartuffe (1664), as in his other plays, Moliere employs classic comic devices of plot and character. Here, a foolish, stubborn father blocking the course of young love: an impudent servant commenting on her superiors’ actions; a happy ending involving a marriage facilitated by implausible means. He often uses such devices, however, to comment on his own immediate social scene, imagining how universal patterns play themselves out in a specific historical context. The play’s emotional energy derives not from the simple discrepancy of man and mask in Tartuffe (“Is not a face quite different from a mask?” inquires the normative character Cleante, who has no trouble making such distinctions.), but from the struggle for erotic, psychic, and economic power in which people employ their masks. To make Tartuffe a specifically religious hypocrite is an act of inventive daring, Orgon, like his mother, conceals from himself his will to...
Cited: The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 2nd ed. Vol. D. Gen. ed. Martin
Puchner. Norton, 2011. Web. 6 Mar. 2012.
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