The rôle of women in selected comedies of Molière

Thomas, Elizabeth Myfanwy Aurfron Beddoe (2000). The rôle of women in selected comedies of Molière. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.

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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: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Humanities
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Modern Languages
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures


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