L'Impromptu de Versailles book report - detailed analysis, book summary, literary elements, character analysis, Jean Baptist Moliere biography, and everything necessary for active class participation
L'Impromptu de Versailles is Jean Baptist Moliere's comedy which belongs to Classicism, a literary movement well developed in France. The work was published after Moliere's death in 1682.
The comedy describes the French society of those days in a humorous and satirical way. Moliere uses humor as a weapon against the critics who are his enemies. He was inspired by reality, everyday city life, and the common and average in people; their vices and flaws - envy and viciousness. He was actually alluding to his jealous colleagues and critics.
The comedy has a very dynamic rhythm, the scenes are shorter and change faster, the monologues aren't too long and, despite the many characters, there is the only one that stands out.
The goal of this work is to entertain its audience in a simple, clear, rational, and concise way. Moliere wanted to convey everyone a message through humor and irony.
The work doesn't belong to the high style of writing nor a high expression. It is filled with everyday expressions which are also a source of laughter. The style is simplistic so the work is easy to read and understand.
The plot is set in the most luxurious French castle Versailles. There are many intrigues, gossip, schemes, and other events.
The work is a comedy inside a comedy, or better yet a play inside a play. Everything revolves around Moliere and his acting group who are rehearsing to perform for the king at the last minute. The main subject and the main character is Moliere with critics all around him. He criticized his critics inside the play as well as the actors and writers. They get their revenge by writing a play criticizing him.
Time was passing by and the actors got more nervous because they didn't know the lines and they knew their parts at the last minute. Moliere refused to postpone the play because he thought it wasn't adequate to confront or contradict the king.
The whole rehearsal was being interrupted by unnecessary questions and dialogues, sudden arrivals, and checkups. In the end, the king came and the actors refused to act because they didn't rehearse it well enough.
This comedy, like all the others, had a happy ending. The king found out about the actors being unprepared and he gave them more time to prepare for the play. He was satisfied with any play they put up for him.
Throughout the whole comedy, Moliere states his opinion about the critics. He didn't describe them literally in his characters and made fun of them. He decided to take the high road and make a great play. He didn't want to waste his time on revenge because it would be exactly what everyone would expect of him.
Other book reports
Setting: Versailles in Paris during 17th century, French absolutism
Point of view: third-person
Narrator: poet's narration
Tone: satirical, humoristic
Theme: a play about French society during the 17th century described in a satirical and humoristic way.
Everyone on the scene was in a costume and getting ready to rehearse a play written by Moliere. He was ordered by the king to perform a new play in eight days. The king was expected to come in two hours and Moliere asked all present to start the rehearsal, the problem was that no one knew their role and/or lines.
Miss De Brie expected someone to whisper the text to her and Moliere and Bejart wanted to act with the texts in their hands. All the actors were a bit agitated and scared because they weren't ready and Moliere, the play writer, was also scared that the play would fail. Moliere refused to ask for more time because he didn't want to stand up to the king.
Bejart reproached Moliere for not using an already developed concept of a play which was based on an acting group which was approached by a writer looking for characters for his play, especially for the role of the king; everyone would point at one actor which would fit the writer's standards of a king being obese to be able to fill the throne.
Moliere listened to him and they picked a man who had to read the king's role. When the poet heard him, he criticized him and told him he lacked a pathetic tone in his voice and empathy. The young actor told him he thought the king should speak more clearly. The author looked for two more actors to play the role of the lovers but he was disappointed again because he hadn't found the right amount of passion between the two actors. Moliere finishes by explaining his idea for the play.
Miss De Brie asks him to recite some parts from famous works, like Cid, and he pleases her.
Miss Brie played a marchioness and Moliere told her to watch and think about how she will perform her role when she will be on the stage with him. Miss De Parc wasn't happy with her role but since Moliere already gave her a similar role in one of his other plays he was sure she would manage it.
Moliere spoke to the actors and explained the things they should look out for during their performance in order to paint their characters perfectly. He talked to everyone but La Grange.
De Croisy played the role of the poet and he had to be pretentious and careful about making an accent on every syllable, pronouncing everything, and sticking to the grammar rules.
Brecourt played a prestigious man who had to have a good posture, natural voice, and use gestures as little as possible.
Miss Bejart played the role of a woman that thinks she is entitled to do anything because she is pure. That type of woman checked everyone out from head to toe and thought no virtue can even come close to her purity.
Miss Brie played a seeming prude. She kept her reputation clean, though modesty was an important virtue that will make her seem valuable in high society. Behind the mask of alleged pure relationship, she was rather sinful and thought up many schemes.
Miss Moliere played the same role as in Moliere's previous play so she was quiet the whole play.
Miss Du Croisy played a woman that wanted to be gentle and kind to everyone but she managed to gossip about everyone at the same time.
Miss Herve played a maid of a prestigious and elegant woman. The maid loved to get involved with other people's conversations and used every opportunity to talk as if she was an elegant woman.
La Thorilliere was the king's servant and he came to see how the play was going, started asking Moliere about its name, costumes, and the king's unexpected arrival. Moliere tried to ignore him and his questions by talking to the actors all the time and he gave unspecified answers to Le Thorilliere who took the chance to court Miss Du Croisy and Miss Herve.
Moliere asked Miss De Brie to discreetly let Le Thorilliere know that uninvited guests aren't welcomed at the rehearsals and she did so.
Thorilliere then left to let everyone know the show was being prepared.
The plot of the play is settled in the King's anteroom because anyone could be there and it was perfect for justifying female presence. The comedy starts with two marquises meeting.
They started fighting about their role in the previous Moliere play.
Brecourt came to the scene and was the judge in the marquises' bet. He didn't judge in favor of either of them. His argument was overhearing Moliere talking to people and explaining that all of his characters are fictional and that he is trying to describe the customs and habits of people without invading their personalities. Comedy's purpose is to show and laugh out people's unchangeable flaws. Everyone could relate to the comedies because they didn't point out individuals. Moliere and Le Grange were unhappy with the verdict and went to find a new judge.
The real Moliere emphasizes that it's important for the play Brecourt emphasizing that Moliere will always have something to write about because people will always seek acknowledgement for their fake and overly flattering behavior.
The rehearsal goes on when Elise and Climene (Miss Moliere and Du Parc) come. Miss Moliere was sucking up to Du Parc and gave nice comments about her look, pale skin, and red lips.
The rehearsal goes on.
Miss De Brie brings news about Lycidas writing a play against Moliere named Boursauta. In the play, he mocked everyone, judged females' expressions, and called the honorable women evil.
They comment on Moliere's plays. They were adored by the people only because they made a mockery out of them and everyone could find themselves in them. Playing a mockery out of Moliere wasn't a problem for him, in fact, he was more than happy to watch it. He will strike back by making a better play that will take over the whole audience and the main theme of the new play won't be making fun of his rivals by describing them.
Miss Bejart stops the rehearsal to talk to Moliere. She told him he had every right to make fun of his opponents and embarrass them in his play. He responded that he had no desire to be like them and to shower them with insults. Him doing that would be a sign of a sensitive soul and it wouldn't be an act of real revenge if they anticipated it coming.
Miss De Brie said they were insulted by a few words mentioned about them in Moliere's play and Moliere says he hurt them the most by making the audience love his plays. He didn't mind someone coming after his works; he had the opportunity to make people like his plays.
He thought Boursaut would be honored if Moliere made fun of him and he didn't want to give him the attention he craved. The critics wanted to drag him into a fight just to make him drift away from his writing. Moliere was determined not to respond to the critics. He had nothing against them writing about his works even after he dies because everybody needs publicity.
Their discussion and rehearsal were interrupted by the king's arrival. All the actors were dissatisfied because they had to play roles they knew nothing about and they hadn't had time to learn their lines.
Bejart announces the king's arrival and that he's waiting for the play to start. Moliere asked for a little more time. Miss Du Parc suggests that he goes and apologizes.
An official demands the play to be. Moliere is in an uncomfortable situation because his actors weren't ready.
Another official asks for the same thing as the first one and Moliere asks his actors to not embarrass him.
The third official asks for the play to start.
The fourth official asks for the play to begin and Moliere says they aren't ready.
Bejart came and explained to Moliere that the king knows all about the troubles the acting group experienced and that he decided to postpone the play if they perform another successful comedy.
Characters: Moliere, Brecourt, De la Grange, Du Croisy, La Thorilliere, Béjart, Miss Du Parc, Miss Bejart, Miss De Brie, Miss Molière, Miss Du Croisy, Miss Herve
Moliere - a successful playwright who was put in an uncomfortable situation. His play's success was questioned. His plays were very important because he always tried his best to get the best out of the actors. When he was stressed out he even yelled at his wife because she told him to make a play in which he will be the only actor. He put his plays in the first place and he was often the main character so we could conclude he was egoistic, self-centered, and vain. He made fun of other people and their flaws while he described himself as a man who doesn't retaliate or lower himself. He was always superior to others.
Miss Bejart - is a critical person and she didn't have a problem telling Moliere all that she thought whether it's about his behavior or about the play, irresponsibility about the concept of the play, or the fact that the play was made up at the last minute.
Miss De Brie - is curious which is notable when she asks Moliere to share something about his other comedy. She was somewhat vindictive when the problem was an injustice.
La Thorielle was a marquis who came to scout the area and see what Moliere was up to. He wasn't Moliere's favorite person. He was a womanizer and took every opportunity he had to court the ladies.
Miss Du Parc and Miss De Brie - two women defending every woman's honor and they were insulted by the way the females were laughed at.
Jean-Baptiste Poqelin Moliere was born on January 15th, 1622, and, besides Racine and Corneille, is one of the most famous French comedy writers of the golden era.
His mother died while he was young and Moliere was never close to his father, Jean Poquelin who held a prestigious office in the court of Louis XIII. Poquelin purchased the position and planned to pass it down to his son, but Moliere had different ideas.
He attended school at the Jesuit College de Clermont, but at the age of twenty-one, Moliere dropped out of school so he could concentrate on plays. He and the actress, Madeleine Bejart opened a theater together called the Illustre Theatre.
Although Madeleine's brother and sister helped them with their performances, the theater went bankrupt in 1645. Moliere was imprisoned for 24 hours, but the debts were paid by his father. After this, he adapted his stage name to Moliere. The reason for this could have been that he did not want to embarrass his father. The court of Louis XIV has made actors more fashionably accepted in society, but they still couldn't be buried in consecrated ground.
For the next twelve years, Moliere and his troupe traveled throughout France organizing plays. Moliere had a talent for mockery which was evident. Along the way, he acquired a patron. Armand was the Prince of Conti of the House of Bourbon, and the governor of Languedoc. Moliere lost his patronage after Armand incurred syphilis and became religious. Then Armand joined with a group of zealots who boycotted Moliere's risque plays. When Moliere finally returned to Paris, he had developed some notoriety.
In Paris, he rented the Louvre, which was a theater at the time, and performed for the King in 1658. His troupe was a success and awarded the title of Troupe de Monsieur. While Moliere wrote plays in a comedic style, he used humor to criticize the customs of France at that time.
Except for being a writer, Moliere was also a screenwriter and contributed to the development of humorous satire. He planned on becoming a lawyer but he gave up and decided to dedicate his life to the theater where he worked as an actor, writer, and director until the end of his life.
He wrote 33 comedies, some of them were in verse, while some of them were in prose. They're believed to be used as a representation of French society in the 17th century. Moliere always tried to give a detailed description of the social layers and their characteristics. He was judgmental and laughed out everything that wasn't in harmony with the nature that he believed was the symbol of intellect.
His most famous comedies are: "The School for Husbands", "Tartuffe", "The Misanthrope", "Don Juan". He wanted to write tragedies but he became famous for his burlesques that were performed after the tragedies. Later on, he dedicated himself to writing musical comedies. He suffered from tuberculosis and, just a few minutes later after the show started, he coughed blood on stage and died on February 17th, 1673 in Paris.