The Problem of Sincerity in a Gilded Age: Molière’s Tartuffe and The Misanthrope


I.                    Sincerity and Theatricality

A.     Why be sincere?

B.     The Persona and the Stage

C.     Elusive Reality

D.     Beauty and Truth

II.                 The Trouble with Molière: Tartuffe  and The Misanthrope

A.     Obsessions

B.     Love and Idealism

III.               Courtship as Theater

A.     Cèliméne’s Dilemma

B.     The Rules of Courtship

C.     The Painful Truth

D.     The Spirit of Moderation

IV.              Midterm Review: The Major Ideas

A.     Secular and Religious

B.     The Soul and the Mind

C.     Bourgeois and Noble

D.     Social Order and Personal Integrity; Political and Personal

E.      Desire and Duty

F.      Justice and Honor

G.     A priori and a posteriori truth

H.     Beauty and Truth

I.        Honesty and Deception

V.                 The Works

A.     Boccaccio’s Decameron

1.      Fourteenth century

2.      Collection of stories, ten days

3.      Secular, bourgeois perspective

4.      Surviving the plague

5.      Desire and life

B.     Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptameron

1.      Early sixteenth century

2.      Similar to Decameron, but different in tone and outlook

3.      A Queen tells us how to behave

4.      Wars of the Reformation

5.      Duty, honor, and desire

C.     Lope de Vega’s Fuente Ovejuna

1.      Late sixteenth-early seventeenth century

2.      Play, historical drama

3.      From feudalism to monarchy

4.      Honor and justice

5.      The obligations of subject and sovereign

D.     Shakespeare’s Sonnets

1.      Late sixteenth-early seventeenth century

2.      Lyric poetry—sonnet form

3.      Consciousness, interior life

4.      Beauty and personal matters

E.      Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy

1.      Early seventeenth century

2.      Philosophical essay

3.      Geometry and a priori truth

4.      Existence of God and the soul

5.      Knowledge from authority or from methodical proof

F.      Molière’s Tartuffe and The Misanthrope

1.      Mid-seventeenth century

2.      Comedy

3.      Truth and misrepresentation

4.      Cant, hypocrisy, and misanthropy

VI.              Systematic Study

A.     Schedule your time.

B.     Take study notes.

C.     Know things for certain.

D.     Develop your ideas.