Commedia Dell' Arte and Moliere

Only available on StudyMode
  • Topic: Molière, Commedia dell'arte, Playwright
  • Pages : 6 (2389 words )
  • Download(s) : 722
  • Published : January 2, 2014
Open Document
Text Preview
Commedia Dell' Arte and Moliere

Commedia Dell’ Arte was a distinctive form of stage art in the 1600’s and the famous playwright Moliere furthered its acceptance and import throughout his life. Originating in Italy, the popular art form spread quickly with the aid of traveling troops. One area that was greatly affected by this form of theater was France. The French people adored this theater and made it fit in with their culture. This can be seen in an essay by Gustave Lanson when he states, “In Paris Italian farce had replaced French farce.” The success of Commedia Dell’ Arte during the reign of Charles IX is well-known” (Lanson, 137). This effect can be seen through one of the country’s most famous playwrights, Moliere. Moliere was a renowned playwright and actor that continues to be well-known today. He was greatly influenced by Commedia Dell’ Arte. “Well-known definitions of the Commedia Dell’ Arte are that it was a semi-literary form of theatrical performance based primarily upon effective gestures and lazzi, and involving a limited number of generally accepted types who in their contrasting relation provide the setting for a light and flimsy action linked somehow by the eternal theme of love”( 704). His showing of the art form can be seen through his three most famous plays Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, and The Imaginary Invalid. As Lanson stated, “From soiling the noble and pure conception of comic genius given to us by The Misanthrope and Tartuffe” (Lanson, 134). With the progression from an earlier play to his final play, we can see where Moliere used aspects of Commedia Dell’ Arte and where he veered away to fit his own personal tastes and that of France’s. Moliere was born Jean-Baptise Poquelin in 1622 to a father who was an upholsterer for the King and spent most of his life at court. “Thus, as author and actor, it is in farce that Moliere was first revealed to Louis XIV and the Parisian public” (Lanson 141). In Lanson’s essay on Moliere, we can see his constant influence from attending court with his father. Until 1643 Moliere had been studying to become a lawyer. In that year, at the age of 21, he switched over to a life of the theater. He joined actress Madeleine Bejart and together they started the L’Illustre Theater. However, the theater became bankrupt and Moliere had to spend some time in prison. It was after his time in prison that he changed his name to Moliere and traveled around with his troop. “His journey through the provinces had brought him into contact with innumerable Italian artists of the Commedia Dell’ Arte” (Bertram-Cox, 302). His time in prison and traveling abroad changed the way in which he performed and wrote his plays. There were outside influences and emotional attachments that went along with his works. “Attempting to describe the course of Moliere’s life, the...influence of Moliere’s personal life on his plays” (Mallet, 119). Many outside sources that had their effect on Moliere made their way into his plays. Upon his return to Paris in 1658, his troop joined with an Italian Commedia troop. During that time he had become more critical of society, and he loved to make his plays more satirical. His stances against certain aspects of French living can be seen in his plays: Tartuffe, against the Catholic Church, The Misanthrope, against the aristocracy, and The Imaginary Invalid, against society’s ignorance. Moliere loved his tragedies, but he had to write what was popular during the times. Farce and Commedia became his specialties. However, during this time France had a tight hand on theater expecting certain aspects and allowing what stages could contain. This can be seen when Gustave Lanson says on French theater of the time, “In Moliere’s comedy, there is an important part that Italian farce does not contain, at least for the French spectator: The painting of social conditions and relationships.” This is what Moliere would have to observe and incorporate into his plays. Critics...
tracking img