Moliere biography
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Moliere biography

Moliere (January 15, 1622 – February 17, 1673) playwright and actor. He was born in France, Paris. Baptized with the name of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin. He developed into a wealthy merchant bourgeoisie family, his father was the royal upholsterer. Unfortunately, Moliere’s mother died when he was only ten years old. He studied at the Jesuit school of Clermont. He graduated from the Faculty of Law of Orleans in 1642. During this period he met philosophers such as Pierre Gassendi, Chapelle, Cyrano de Bergerac and D’Assoucy. In 1643, he adopted the nickname of Moliere.

Sometime later, he founded L’Illustre Théâtre together with the comedian Madeleine Béjart; at the beginning, the direction was in her hands and then passed to Moliere. When he wanted to enlarge the project and expand it in the city of lights, the young company failed due to lack of resources, and Moliere remained for a few days arrested for debts in 1645. On leaving, a journey began, with the group headed by Dufresne, for the regions from the south of France. The regions that visited the company showed important works inspired by tragedies of contemporary authors (Corneille, among others) the first scripts of Moliere were rudimentary on which actors improvised in the style of commedia dell’arte.

The company was established in Paris under the name of Troupe de Monsieur in 1658, his first major success was satire The precious ridiculous. In 1660 he created the character of Sganarelle (he was always played by himself and was suitable for several works). In many occasions, Moliere showed the desire to overcome the fame of Corneille and Racine but did not triumph in the genre of tragedy: Don Garcia de Navarra, work in which he had invested much effort, was a resounding failure. But luck came with the school of women (1662) with this work won the favor of Louis XIV.

At that time, the playwright married Armande Béjart, twenty years younger than him, and although many royalty and artistic circles criticized him, he received the support of Louis XIV who sponsored the first child of the couple, who sadly died a little after his birth, in 1664. One of the writings that Molière wrote caused great controversy because it was a forceful response to accusations of incest, he wrote The Impromptu of Versailles, which alienated him with a certain part of the influential class of Paris. In 1663, he organized several festivals in the palace of Versailles, presented the first three acts of his Tartufo and also the tragedies of Racine.

His works were described as irreverent and sacrilegious, his enemies saw in his works a threat to morals; generated a bitter controversy that ended with the banning of the work, one of the first works that were censored was Don Juan or The feast of stones after only fifteen performances. The church was one of the main centers of criticism. But, Moliere took a capricious attitude because he had the favor of the king. Although at times he did not pay him pensions, and the author had to respond to the economic uncertainties of his company by developing a huge production; in only one season he wrote five works, of which only The Doctor in spite of himself was a success.

The difficulties with the Tartufo joined the complex economic situation of the company and the broken health of Moliere. Although after a while the productions began to gain popularity, such as The Misanthrope, The miser or The imaginary sick. The great merit of Molière was to adapt the comedy of art to the conventional forms of French theater. To achieve this he decided to link music, dance and text, and comic resources, against the hypocrisies of his time through the use of irony. He was admired for being a ruthless artist with the pedantry of the false sages, the lie of the ignorant doctors, the pretentiousness of the enriched bourgeoisie, Molière feels that he must give priority to youth to provide him with useful tools that allow him to free himself from absurd restrictions. On the other hand, his main objective was to entertain the common people with his works.

We must mention that he was inspired by the comedies of Plautus and Aristophanes, specifically in the Host. The comedy of Molière focuses on customs, his characters are natural, this is the best exponents of the main theme of his theater: morality and comes to be reduced to an attack against all excess and, along with this, a defense of moderation and the balance. After the dramatist fell ill with tuberculosis. Although he did not work at the same level he continued to write, The Misanthrope, in which he expressed his bitterness after his separation from Armande.

Later he witnessed the lifting of the law that prohibited the work Tartufo. The work achieved enormous success. He also wrote The Tangles of Scapin in 1671. After writing The imaginary sick, the French playwright could not be more observant of that success because in 1673, during the fourth performance of this last work, his health worsened. He died a few days later in his house. The king had to intervene so that the Church granted him the right to the holy land, his burial had no ceremony and was performed at night.

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