Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin)

Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin)

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Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) was born in Paris on January 15, 1622

Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) was born in Paris on January 15,
1622. His father was one of eight valets de chambre tapissiers who
tended the king's furniture and upholstery, so the young Poquelin
received every advantage a boy could wish for. He was educated at the
finest schools (the College de Clermont in Paris.) He had access to
the king's court. But even as a child, Molière found it infinitely
more pleasant to poke fun at the aristocracy than to associate with
them. As a young boy, he learned that he could cause quite a stir by
mimicking his mother's priest. His mother, a deeply religious woman,
might have broken the young satirist of this habit had she not died
before he was yet twelve-years-old. His father soon remarried, but in
less than three years, this wife also passed away. At the age of
fifteen, Jean-Baptiste was left alone with his father and was most
likely apprenticed to his trade.

Molière and his companions made their dramatic debut in a converted
tennis court. Although the company was brimming with enthusiasm, none
of them had much experience and when they began to charge admission,
the results proved disastrous. Over the course of the next two years,
the little company appeared in three different theatres in various
parts of Paris, and each time, they failed miserably. Several of the
original members dropped out of the company during this period.
Finally, the seven remaining actors decided to forget Paris and go on
a tour of the provinces. For the next twelve years, they would travel
from town to town, performing and honing their craft.

Over the course of the next thirteen years, Molière worked feverishly
to make his company the most respected dramatic troupe in Paris.
(Eventually, they were awarded the coveted title "Troupe of the
King.") He directed his own plays and often played the leading role

On February 17, 1673, Molière suffered a hemorrhage while playing the
role of the hypochondriac Argan in The Imaginary Invalid. A bit ironic
isn’t it. He had insisted on going through with the performance in
spite of the advice of his wife and friends saying, "There are fifty
poor workers who have only their daily wage to live on. What will
become of them if the performance does not take place?

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" He passed away
later that night at his home on the Rue Richelieu. The local priests
refused to take his confession, for actors had no social standing and
had been excommunicated by the church. Nor would they permit him to be
buried in holy ground. Four days later, the King interceded and
Molière was finally buried in the Cemetery Saint Joseph under the
cover of darkness.

Molière left behind a body of work which not only changed the face of
French classical comedy, but has gone on to influence the work of
other dramatists the world over.
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