Commedia Dell’ Arte and Moliere
During that time he had become more critical of society, and he loved to make hls plays more satirical. His stances against certain aspects of French living can be seen in his IOF4 plays: lartuTTe, agalnst tne catnollc cnurcn, I ne Mlsantnrope, agalnst tne aristocracy, and The Imaginary Invalid, against societys 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 xpecting 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 were harsh and Moliere had to comply with certain rules.
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Through his life he was able to establish plays that are well-known, even today. Moliere was influenced by the famous theater form of Commedia Dell’ Arte which can be seen through his works.
Established in Italy around 1 545, Commedia Dell’ Arte was a form of theater which had very distinctive characteristics that make it an individual art form. One way that individualized this art form is the use of improvisation and a lack of authorship. The more freedom an actor had the more farce and whimsical a play could appear. “A recognition of the unique aspects of the Commedia Dell’ Arte with its emphasis on movement, gestures, [and] rhythmic action” (Bertram-cox, 302) is an attribute that the actors and audience embers both adore in this comedy based theater form.
Another attribute that makes Commedia individualized is the use of specific characters. There are many characters that come about and pertain to the Commedia Dell’ Arte form. “Manners, according to Moliere, can be painted only through the portrayals of characters” (Bertam-Cox, 304). The importance of characters is highly regarded in Commedia and used by Moliere. These characters are usually two forbidden lovers, the servant (sometimes intelligent and sometimes triumphs because of dumb luck) that helps the two lovers, and the two older men that are forbidding the lovers from eing together.
These characters and their behaviors are what drive the play. The mistakes and desires that constitute each character drives the plot line and makes it light-hearted and easy to watch. A final attribute that pertains to Commedia Dell’ Arte is the story line of Romance. Love is what drives the characters, and this makes each plot line in the character strive to obtain, more than likely, a forbidden love. Each story ends up in a happy ending. These are much like the common day romantic comedies. The zany character would often help his master obtain their love with isguises or elaborate schemes.
Sometimes there would be alternative motives for the servant, but with confusion and misgivings it all ended well in the end with a laugh. This makes up Commedia Dell’ Arte. The theater form of Commedia Dell’ Arte had a very basic structure that could be adhered to. These three elements make up what is Commedia Dell’ Art which is still enjoyed today for its whimsical, farce based, lightheartedness. Moliere saw its popularity and used it while still trying to stick to the French style of theater that was also happening during this time.
Tartuffe is robably the most famous work done by Moliere. It was written in the middle of his writing career, thus, it has still a lot of influence from Commedia Dell’ Arte of the three most famous of his plays. In Gutwirth’s essay on Tarfuffe and the Mysteries, we see the prominence of the play during its time when he states “Tartuffe first saw the light of day as a three-act entertainment gracing one of Louis XIVs most resplendent court spectacles” (6 twlrtn 33). However, It does stray Trom tne structure. wrltten into this play is an attach upon the clergy of the time.
Moliere loved to make political tatements underlying his comedies. This play is about a clergyman staying with a family because of the father’s devotion and infatuation instead of to his religion. There Tartuffe, the clerical protagonist, makes advances upon the women and abuses his power. With Orgon, the master of the house, obsessed with Tartuffe it is hard for the rest of the family members to show his treachery. This is a political statement to show the abuse of power that was happening within the church during this time.