Le role de Sganarelle dans le theatre de Moliere
Hofstetter, Susan Anne
Wadsworth, Philip A.
Master of Arts
The goal of this thesis, after recalling the origins of Moliere's comedy, is to formulate a general portrait of Sganarelle by examining the ideas of our critics about him, and by following him through the theatrical career of his creator. Moliere's comedy, although quite varied, returns always to its origins in the French farce and the Commedia dell'Arte. It was during the years in the provinces that the comedy of our author—actor was in part formed. Poquelin became Moliere, Moliere became the director of the troupe, and he began to write some plays for his troupe, to create roles for himself also. Arriving in Paris in 1658, his troupe was installed at the Petit—Bourbon Theater, where Moliere was then subjected to the influence of the Commedia. Mascarille seems to have been a sketch of Sganarelle. He appears in three plays, in two of which Moliere definitely played the role, in l'Etourdi ou les Contretemps and in les Precieuses ridicules. In all three, Mascarille is a valet, and probably masked. Moliere then abandoned the masked valet and turned to the demasked Sganarelle, whom he introduced in le Medecin volant. Always played by their creator, the Sganarelles all were related, and even today have some kinship in their nature. Sganarelle appears in six more plays, from 1660 to 1666: Sganarelle ou le Cocu imaginaire, l'Ecole des maris, le Mariage force, l'Amour Medecin, Dom Juan ou le Festin de Pierre, and in le Medecin malgre lui. In Sganarelle are united several of the marionettes of the ancient French farce, but, in bringing them closer to reality, Moliere allows them to become little by little more real and more alive. After 1666, Sganarelle disappears and individual names begin to represent characters even closer to life. Yet, Moliere always keeps to a certain extent the rigidity of the mask, that is to say, a character defined by a mask; even Alceste and Tartuffe have their roots in the farce, just as does Sganarelle.