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Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, also known as stage name, Moliere, was considered to be the creator of modern French comedy. Even though there were plenty of critics routing against him he kept at it and, with the help of the King, he grew to become known as one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature.

He was born on january 15, 1622 in Paris, France, to the son of a court apholsterer, Jean Poquelin, and Marie Cresse, the daughter of a prosperous bergeois family. After losing is mother at age 10, Jean-Baptiste moved with his father above the Pavillion de Singes on the rue Saint-Honore in an affluent quartier of Paris. There he was educated at a Parisian petty school, followed by studies in a strict academic environment at the prestigious Jesuit College de Clermont. Once he completed his education, his father arranged a perfect and very promising job. By age 20, he was well on his way to to a career in office; bright pospects for someone his age in 17th century France. It was at this time that Jean-Baptiste became uninterested in the way he was headed. When he was 21 years old, in 1643, he abondoned his parent's plans for his future and pusured the stage.



So it was then that Jean-baptiste became Moliere. He joined Madeleine Bejart and her brother and sister in creating their own troupe called L’Illustre Theatre with 630 livres. In 1645, the troupe became bankrupt, mostly from rents of the theatre. Possibly with help from his father, after a night spent in prison, the depts were paid. Within the next 12 years he and Madeleine began a theatrical circuit of the provinces, in which he met the governor of Languedoc, played in the company of Charles Dufresne, and initially created a company of his own.
In 1658 Moliere started making his way towards Paris by stages, staying outside for a few weeks in order to inveigle himself with society gentlemen and allow his reputation to feed in to the city. When he reached Paris he performed in front of the King at the Louvre in Corneille’s tragedy Nicomede and in the farce Le docteur amoureux(The Doctor of Love). He was given the title of “Troupe de Monsieur”(Monsieur was the King’s brother).

Once in Paris, Moliere became famous for his farces, which are usually in one act and performed after the tragedy. He wrote these in a style called
Commedia dell'arte, with improvisation over a caovaccio. Even though he wrote a few musicals later in life, his comedic style was what he became famous for. His plays were very controversal; he got the attention and criticism of many with plays such as Les Precieuses ridicules, Sganarelle, ou le Cocu Imaginaire, and Les Facheux, subtitled Comedie faite pour les divertissements du Roi. During the performance of Les Facheux, in which Nicolas Fouquet had performed at a series of parties, Jean-Baptiste Colbert demanded the arrest of Fouquet for wasting public money. Fouqet spent the rest of his life in prison. In 1662 moliere moved to the Theatre du Palais-Royal with his Italian partners, where he married Armande. In the same year he played L'Ecole des Femmes (The School for Wives), which made fun of the limited education of girls born into rich families and his marraige itself, and was regarded as a masterpiece. This attracted much criticism; both his work and his marraige. His play sparked a protest called the "Quarrel of L'Ecole des femmes". He responded to this with two lesser-known works called La Critique de "l'Ecole des Femmes", in which he mocked the protestors by showing them at dinner after whatching the play and dismissing all the negative comments they had. Other writers took the opposite side. This was called Guerre Comique (War of Comedy).

On the serious side, people were beginning to critcize Moliere's politics and personal life. Im French high-society there was a protest against Moliere's excessive "realism" and irreverence. Some of these people were even claiming that Moliere married his own daughter. People who were once friends of his were joining these protestors. But, he did have those who supported him. like the King, who expressed his solidarity with the author, granting him pension and agreeing to be the godfather of Moliere's first son.
His mext work, Le Tartuffe, ou L'Imposteur, performed at Versailles, in 1664, probably created the greatest scandal of Moliere's career. It described the hyposcriy of the dominant classes and was taken as an outrage; violently contested. The play aroused the wrath of the Jansenists and it was banned. Despite this, Moliere was always carful not to affend the church or the monarchy. His position as one of the King's favorites protectes him from attack of the court and the play was merely suspended. He got to work on his next play DonJuan, ou le Fetsin de Pierre to replace it. This described the story of an athiest who becomes a relidious hypocrite and therefore is punished by God. It was quickly suspended.

Le Misanthrope, which is today considered to be Moliere's most refined masterpiece, was produced in 1666. It is regarded as his work with the highest moral content, although it was little appreciated at the time. After this was released he tried once more to perform a revised version of Tartuffe, in 1667, with a new name. As soon as the King left Paris, the archibishop and Lamoignon banned the play. But, once the Kind had gained more power over the clergy, a few years later, he imposed respect for the play.
Sometime in 1668 Moliere became ill and wrote less. In 1672, Madeleine Bejart died, leaving Moliere suffering from the loss and worsening from his illness. His last play, Les Femmes savantes (the Learned Ladies) was considered to be one of his masterpieces. Focusing on the termination of the legal use of music in theater, this success led to his last work, holding high esteem. In his time spent as a playwrite in Paris, he wrote 31 of hte 85 plays that performed on his stage, all the whileholding his own company steady and enduring all the criticism.


What may be known as one of the most famous parts of his life, was his death. Moliere suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis, which probably contracted when he was imprisoned for debt in his younger days. When he was performing his last play, Le Malade Imaginaire (the Hypochondriac), he collapsed in a fit of coughing and heamorraging. Even though King Louis XIV, who had been sitting in the audience, encouraged him to rest, Moliere insisted that the show must go on. After the play he had another, much lager, heamorrhage, and died a few hours later. He never recieved the last rites due to two priests refusing to visit him while a third arrived too late.

If not for his widowed wife Moliere would never have recieved a proper funeral at all. Under the law, actors were not allowed to be buried in the sacred ground of a cemetary. Instead, Amande suggested to the King that they hol a normal funeral but at night. And so they held a "secret" funeral for him in the part of the cemetary reserved for unbaptised infants, where it is accounted that up to 800 people attended.

The superstition that green brings actors bad luck is sometimes said to originate from the color of Moliere's clothing the night he passed.


There has been a wide variety of criticism towards Moliere throughout the years, but nevertheless leaving a lasting effect on the French world.

Some critics mentioned the mistaken grammar and hastey writing of Moliere's plays. Later, other playwrights and companies began evaluating his work, and his works continued to recieve positive feedback through 18th century England, although not so much in France. However, his plays became more popular throughout the French Restoration of the 19th century. The French public and critics noticed the unconventional individualism his plays portrayed. Over time critics are beginning to faocus less on the philisophical, moral, and religious implications in his comedies and more on the objective study of his comic technique.


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