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Rules in Moliere’s “Tartuffe” and Racine’s “Phaedra” Essay

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Updated: Jan 27th, 2021

Upon looking back in 1600 and 1700, one notices some strict rules that guided playwriting. This period, the golden age, came after the renaissance, which was characteristic of expansiveness and exploration. A reaction to this was to have some order and restrictions. This reaction came from France. Therefore, most playwrights who adhered to the strict rules were French. This bore a neoclassic model of writing plays, which prescribed strict rules of verisimilitude: the unity of place, action and time, five-play act, and strict classification of the dramas in certain genres.

Moliere’s Tartuffe, a comedy modeled from Corneille, has cautiously designed characters (Moliere 395). Moliere, a talented author and an observer of daily life, easily adhered to the rules of neoclassical writing combining contemporary manners and characters. Three important characteristics make up neoclassicism making it distinct from the previous writings. It relied on three principles of generality, morality, and reality (Moliere 397). Moliere maintains the five-act structure addressing the realities of life, as Racine’s Phaedra and Molière Tartuffe portray men who put their own selfish desires first rather than providing for their families. Tartuffe has Oregon as a gullible and narrow-minded man of the house always sticking to his beliefs overriding family needs (Molière 398). He does not reason. Phaedra, on the other hand, portrays Theseus as blindly believing in other people. He blindly banished his son to death.

About the three unities of times place and action, Racine develops Phaedra in a straightforward style with the most realistic characters and simpler plot (Racine 15). The play is dominant with verisimilitude. The tight structure makes advantage of the themes of the struggle of will, unalterable fate faced with cruelty, and vicious passion. In Tartuffe, Molière uses unique language, the alexandrine, as well as heroic figures. He later develops simpler language and prose.

Works Cited

Molière, Jean. Tartuffe, in Henri Peyre and Joseph Seronde (Eds.), Nine Classic French Plays, Boston, D.C.: Heath, 1936. Print.

Racine, Jean. Phaedra. Kila, MT: Kissinger Publishing, 2004. Print.

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IvyPanda. "Rules in Moliere’s “Tartuffe” and Racine’s “Phaedra”." January 27, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/rules-in-molieres-tartuffe-and-racines-phaedra/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Rules in Moliere’s “Tartuffe” and Racine’s “Phaedra”." January 27, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/rules-in-molieres-tartuffe-and-racines-phaedra/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Rules in Moliere’s “Tartuffe” and Racine’s “Phaedra”'. 27 January.

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