Timely Reflections on his Art of Comedy
Figure 8: Jean Lepautre, performance of Le Malade imaginaire (19 July 1674), Bibliothèque Nationale de France Though many social and religious issues are broached in his plays, Molière’s theatre could never directly bring into question the foundations of society or openly confront established religion. That would be the challenge of the next century, obviously impossible under the rule of the Sun King. And yet, the first miracle of Molière is how much one senses the push towards social dynamism just under the surface of his theatre. The tensions of seri- ous, far-reaching social and religious discontent are potentially all there, just barely out of sight. And the second miracle of Molière is that it could all happen right under the nose, and even with the sponsorship, laughter 250 Finale and applause of a king whose sovereign absolutism in the long run did not fit very well with an author who repeatedly made his capital out of ridicul- ing male authority figures and revealing the consequences of their tyranny (of a domestic, bourgeois sort). And perhaps it was in order to forestall any suspicion of a royal or courtly pertinence to his mockeries of tyranny that one finds such a strong current of sycophancy in Molière’s plays, f lat- teries of the court and king, along with occasional casuistical distinctions making it absolutely clear that he would not dream of attacking prevailing, reasonable values, only the ridiculous values of others. It could not have been otherwise....
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.