Blueprints of Piety

Blueprints of Piety - Moliere and Pope: Blueprints of Piety...

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Moliere and Pope: Blueprints of Piety by Marco Mujica LIT 2120, Valencia Community College Professor Pickren 28 Sept. 2007
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Mujica 2 Moliere and Pope: Blueprints of Piety When one thinks of a pious man, certain images and phrases come to mind: “God- fearing,” “reads the Good Book,” “prays every night,” etc. A perfect example is the Pope, a figurehead of Catholicism that is considered infallible and a direct representative of God. In the sixteenth century, the Catholic Church was under much scrutiny. The papacy was accused of rampant corruption and abuses of power. For example, priests were promoting the rich to essentially “buy” their way into heaven by selling letters of absolution. Such conduct lead to the Protestant Reformation which aimed to re-evaluate not only the church, but the concept and practices of religion. The questioning spirit of the Reformation carried on well into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with artists and scholars depicting and promoting their own personal views on religion. Such authors such as Jean-Baptiste Poquelin Moliere (1622-1673 CE) and Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744 CE) promoted controversial ideas on contemporary religion. Moliere’s Tartuffe (1664 CE) is a scathing satire of religious corruption that promotes quiet servitude and charity in God’s name. Pope’s An Essay on Man (1733-34 CE) describes pious people as those that happily accept their place on the Great Chain and do not question God’s intentions. Both men had different ideas on religious servitude and completely different ways of expressing them. By analyzing Tartuffe and An Essay on Man , it is clear to see what their ideals on true piety were. Moliere’s Tartuffe is a comedy that explains what he thinks a pious person should be like by showing the exact opposite. Its structure is that of French dramatic poetry style called “the Alexandrine.” Matthew Arnold in his The French Play in London states this about Alexandrine comedies: “immense power has gone to the making of them; a
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Mujica 3 world of vigorous sense, piercing observation, pathetic meditation, profound criticism of life.” Tartuffe ’s subject matter was so controversial that the Catholic Church persuaded king Louis XIV to ban it. The play circles around a scoundrel for which the play is named after. Tartuffe is a manipulative thief that uses the guise of a servant of God to snatch power from a well-to-do family. This character is the source of most of the play’s controversy. In early versions of Tartuffe , the thief was dressed in garments that were strikingly similar to those worn by religious men of the time. In Tartuffe: Comedy or Drama, Peter Nurse describes Tartuffe as a wily, shoeless beggar that is well-versed in religious mysticism. After the play’s ban, Moliere changed the costume to appear less conspicuous in hopes of producing it again. Through Tartuffe and his actions, Moliere
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This note was uploaded on 09/14/2011 for the course IDH 3 taught by Professor Frame during the Fall '07 term at Valencia.

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Blueprints of Piety - Moliere and Pope: Blueprints of Piety...

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