Tartuffe is an excellent example of a neoclassical drama because of its close adherence to the guidelines set forth in Aristotle’s Poetics, its use of character structure, and its incorporation of the common neoclassical ideas involving: reason, rational thinking, as well as logical problem solving.
During the beginning of the 17th Century neoclassical thought began to dominate the stage in France. In the domain of theatre, this meant that neoclassical writers began to look back to the ideals and beliefs of classical times, accentuating the classic ideas of rational control and discipline. It was an age intrigued with regularity as the ideas stemming from this period insist upon certain norms of behavior in society. Throughout the period, specific emphasis was placed upon rational perspective and behavior (Neoclassicism).
Neoclassical writers emphasized the importance of the Poetics of Aristotle, as well as the unities of place, time, and action that they extracted from his works. In Poetics, Aristotle laid out the six essential elements of tragedy: plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle, and song (McManus). Each of these components held certain value to what Aristotle believed to be a successful play, however, plot and character held to be the most important.
The first principle that Aristotle outlines in Poetics is that of the plot, and according to him, the most important feature in a play. He defines the plot as “the arrangement of incidents”, meaning the structure of the play. Aristotle believes that the plot must be “a whole”, “complex”, “of certain magnitude”, and must be “complete” having “unity of action” (McManus). Molière’s Tartuffe fits this criterion perfectly. The play is considered to be whole in that i...
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...rough what he or she revealed of universal human nature, rather than individual differences, forever changing French theatrical comedies.
Gainor, J. Ellen., Stanton B. Garner, and Martin Puchner. The Norton Anthology of Drama, Shorter Edition. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.
McManus, Barbara F. "Outline of Aristotle's Theory of Tragedy." Outline of Aristotle's Theory of Tragedy. Web. 14 Dec. 2013.
"Neoclassicism." A Guide to the Study of Literature: A Companion Text for Core Studies. Comp. English Department Brooklyn College. 6th ed. Landmarks of Literature. Brooklyn College. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.
Smithson, Isaiah. "The Moral View of Aristotle's Poetics." Journal of the History of Ideas 44.1 (1983): 3-17. JSTOR. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.
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