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The rôle of women in selected comedies of Molière

Thomas, Elizabeth Myfanwy Aurfron Beddoe (2000)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

To put the whole subject of the role of women in Moliere's comedies into context, it is necessary to trace the theatrical tradition which had a bearing on his work. This was three-fold: the plays of the classical authors, Plautus and Terence, the influence of French farce and that of the Italian \(commedia\) \(del/ 'arte\). Moliere is also bound to reflect the mores of his age. As background, I therefore trace the role of women in the patriarchal society of seventeenth-century France, their access to education and culture, legal status and economic position and again relate this to the situations and characters in the plays.

My aim is to examine the role of women in the comedies by analysing their personalities, their motives and actions, to explore their relationships with others, both male and female and how this dynamic interplay produces comedies which amuse an audience.

There is a dichotomy in the roles of women in that they are passive and active; passive compliance as victims or active empowerment as they fight for their freedom.
Other themes discussed are patriarchal authority, the status of women in marriage, the Freudian conception of narcissism and incorporation in some of the men's relationships with women and the role of desire in the power-game.

The conclusion that one can draw is that Moliere has strong women in his plays, who fight for their right to happiness and freedom. The comedies reflect and enlighten us on the complexity of human relationships, particularly on the interaction of men and women in their roles and as such have a timeless and universal appeal.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
School/Faculty:Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Humanities
Department:Department of French Studies
Subjects:PQ Romance literatures
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:7572
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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