FINAL PAPER- MOLIERE

FINAL PAPER- MOLIERE - Moliere and the King The...

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Moliere and the King: The Relationship That Saved The Famous Playwright By Alex “Lexie” Picker Theatre History 150 Lynne Greeley 5 March 2008
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On January 17, 1673, one of the world’s greatest comedic playwrights collapsed during one of his performances. He died that same night with only two nuns by his side. The church forbade him to be seen by a priest. 1 Moliere (born Jean- Baptiste Poqulin) was a brilliant dramatist. He had many admirers during his career, but he also had a countless list of rivals. The Church dominated political power during Moliere’s time and was the biggest challenge that he struggled against. In response, arises the question: how did Moliere come to accomplish so many entertaining and politically charged comedies when the religious authorities intensely disapproved? I argue that without King Louis XIV’s influence, Moliere would never have been able to rise above the religious authorities to survive as a playwright. To support my thesis about Moliere’s dependent relationship on King Louis XIV, I will first consider Moliere’s biography and lay out the time period in which he thrived. Secondly, I will highlight the politics of King Louis XIV and the role of the religious authorities during Moliere’s time (1622-1673) 2 . Lastly, I will show how the religious authorities tried to break Moliere, but King Louis XIV prevented that from occurring. In January, during the year of 1622 3 , one of the greatest playwrights the world has ever seen was born. Jean-Baptist Poquelin was born to his father, Jean Poquelin, who lived in the Halles district of Paris. Jean-Baptist Poquelin was born into a family of tapestry makers. 4 His father had high hopes for his son and decided to enroll him in school where Jean-Baptiste studied law. During the time of his adolescence, his father purchased the post of official furnisher at the court. This gave Jean Baptiste the 1 “Molière.” Encyclopedia of World Biography (Detroit: Gale Research, 1998), 88. 2 “Moliere,” 86. 3 David Bradby and Andrew Calder, eds., Moliere (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), XV. 4 Bradby, XV. 2
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opportunity to grow up around the court in Paris. 5 His relatives, the Mazuels, who were popular musicians at the time, aided him in gaining access to the courts as well. 6 It has been said that even from a very early age he was attracted to the art of theatre. He developed friendships with many famous thespians, notably Tiberio Fiorelli and young actress Madeleine Bejart. 7 Around 1632, Jean- Baptiste’s mother died and his family was left with a comfortable amount of money. He was destined to join his father and possibly take over his post at the court, but Jean-Baptiste had a growing passion for theatre in his heart. He knew he could not take up the rights of the office of tapestry, so he ceded the rights given to him by his father, to his brother. 8
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course THE 150 taught by Professor Greeley during the Spring '08 term at Vermont.

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FINAL PAPER- MOLIERE - Moliere and the King The...

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