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Molière: Life and Career

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Molière, He was the leading French comic actor, stage director, and dramatic theoretician of the 17th century. Moliere In a theatrical period, the early baroque (The Baroque is a period of artistic style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama.) He was born on Jan. 15, 1622, his father was a Parisian furniture merchant and upholsterer to the king.

Molière received his early education at the College de Clermont, a Jesuit school, becoming a promising scholar of Latin and Greek. Although he proceeded to study law and was awarded his law degree in 1642, he turned away from both the legal profession and his father’s business. Instead, he incorporated (1643) an acting troupe, the Illustre Theatre, in collaboration with the Bejart family.

With this company, Molière went bankrupt, then left to tour the provinces, primarily in southernn France, from about 1646 to 1658. In 1658 the troupe returned to Paris and played before Louis XIV. The king’s brother became Molière’s patron; they were appointed official providers of entertainment to the Louis XIV of France.

In the following years, starting with The Precious Maidens Ridiculed (1659), which established him as the most popular comic playwright of the day, and ending with The Imaginary Invalid (1673), Molière Unwittingly made many enemies. The clergy mistakenly believed that certain of his plays were attacks on the church.

In 1662 he married Armande Béjart, a 19-year-old actress who was either Madeleine’s sister or possibly her daughter by Molière. In the late 1660s, Molière developed a lung ailment from which he never recovered, although he continued to work before He finally collapsed on Feb. 17, 1673, after the fourth performance of The Imaginary Invalid, and died at home that evening. Church leaders refused to grant his body a formal burial. Seven years later the king united Molière’s company with one of its competitors; since that time the French national theater, the Comédie Francaise, has been known as the House of Molière.

Molière’s principal short plays (in one or two acts) are: The Jealous Husband (1645?), The Flying Doctor (1648?), Sganarelle (1660), The Rehearsal at Versailles (1663), and The Forced Marriage (1664); the longer plays (in three or five acts) include The School for Husbands (1661), The School for Wives (1662), Tartuffe (1664), Don Juan (1665), The Misanthrope (1666), The Doctor in Spite of Himself (1666), Amphitryon (1668), The Miser (1668), George Dandin (1668), The Bourgeois Gentleman (1670), Scapin (1671), The Learned Ladies (1672), and The Imaginary Invalid (1673).

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