||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 7 to 12
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||festin, hypocrisy, intension, providences, slapstick-like, theoretician, dramatist, respectable, improbable, officiate, patronage, satire, best, bankrupt, unsuccessful, full-length
||Jean Baptiste Poquelin, Illustre Théatre, Madeleine Béjart, King Louis XIV, Les Précieuses, Pretentious Young Ladies, Roman Catholic Church, Catholic Church, Don Juan, Armande Béjart
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By Jamie Kee
1 Moliére, pseudonym for Jean Baptiste Poquelin, was a French actor and playwright who lived during the 1600s. He was considered one of the greatest French comedy writers, having composed numerous full-length and short comedies. In addition to writing, he also directed, acted, and managed various theater groups. Moliére was regarded as a leading comic actor, stage director, and dramatic theoretician of the 17th century.
2 Moliére was born in Paris, France, on January 15, 1622. His father, a successful upholsterer, held the post of official furnisher of the royal court. He came from a long line of Beauvais tradesmen. Moliére's mother died when he was only ten years old. He was educated at the Collége de Clermont, a Jesuit school, and was a Latin and Greek scholar. He continued his studies in law and received a law degree in the early 1640s. However, from an early age, Moliére was interested in the theater, so in 1643, he left the law in order to join a theater group called the Illustre Théatre in partnership with the Béjart family. Moliére's reason for joining this group was most likely because he had fallen in love with the eldest daughter of the family, Madeleine Béjart. It was during this time that Moliére probably took on his pseudonym so his family could avoid embarrassment, because during this time period, theater life wasn't considered respectable. Unfortunately, the Illustre Théatre group was unsuccessful and eventually went bankrupt.
3 Moliére joined another theater group and later became head of one. For approximately twelve years, the group toured various providences. Moliére was able to develop his skills as an actor, director, and playwright. When the theater troupe returned to Paris in 1658, they performed before King Louis XIV. After this opportunity, Moliére was able to form a theater company that had sufficient success, due largely from the patronage of Philippe d'Orléans. Unfortunately, few of his works survived during this time period. However, Moliére's plays soon began to grow in popularity until he eventually established himself as the most popular comic playwright of the day.
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