“L’Impromptu de Versailles” is Jean Baptist Moliere’s comedy which belongs to the 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 humoristic and satirical way. Moliere uses it as a weapon against the critics who were his enemies. He was inspired by reality, everyday city life, and the common and average in people; their vices and flaws which are 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 only one which 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 is also a source of laughter. The style is simple so the work is easy for reading and understanding.
The plot is settled in the most luxurious French castle Versailles. There are many intrigues, gossips, 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 in the last minute. The main subject and the main character is Moliere with the critics around him. He criticized his critics inside the play as well as the actors and other writers. They get their revenge by writing a play criticizing him.
The time was passing by and the actors got more nervous because they didn’t know the lines and they knew their parts in the last minute. Moliere refuses 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, as all the others, had a happy ending. The king found out about the actors being unprepared and he gave them more time to prepare the play. He was satisfied with any play they put up for him.
Through the whole comedy Moliere states his opinion about the critics. He didn’t describe them literary 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 revenging because it was exactly what everyone expected.
Place: Versailles in Paris
Time: 17th century, French absolutism
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. No one knew their role or text.
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 maker of the play, was scared to 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 passion. Moliere finishes with 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 out how she will perform her role when she will be on the scene 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 will manage her role.
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 a 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, thought modesty was an important virtue which will make her seem valuable in the high society. Behind the mask of alleged pure relationship she did her schemes and sins.
Miss Moliere played the same role as in Moliere’s previous play so she was quite 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 peoples conversations and used every opportunity to talk as if she was the elegant woman.
La Thorilliere was the king’s servant and he came to see how was the play 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 discretely let Le Thorilliere know that uninvited guests aren’t welcomed at their 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’s play.
Brecourt came to the scene and was the judge in the marquises’ bet. He didn’t judge in favor of neither 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 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 acknowledgment 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 Lysidas writing a play against Moliere named Boursauta. In the play he mocked everyone, judged female’s expressions and called the honorable women evil.
They comment 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. Play making 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 which 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 a real revenge if they anticipated it coming.
Miss 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 evne after he dies because everybody needs publicity.
Their discussion and rehearsal was 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 suggested that he goes and apologizes.
An official demands the play to being. 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, Bejart, Miss Du Parc, Miss Bejart, Miss de Brie, Miss Moliere, Miss Du Croisy, Miss Herve
Moliere was a successful play writer 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 on 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 was a critical person and she didn’t have a problem telling Moliere all that she thought whether it’s about his behavior about the play, irresponsibility about the concept of the play or the fact that the play was made up in the last minute.
Miss De Brie was curious which is notable when she asks Moliere to share something about his other comedy. She was a bit vindictive when the problem was 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 were two women defending every woman’s honor and they were insulted by the way the females were laughed out.
Jean-Baptiste Poqelin Moliere Biography
Jean-Baptiste Poqelin Moliere was born in 1622 and is one of the most famous French comedy writers, next to Corneille and Racine. He is the best writer of the golden era in French playwriting that reached it’s peak in the 17th century.
Except for being a writer Moliere was also a screenwriter and contributed to the development of the humoristic satire.
He was going to become a lawyer but he gave up on that and decided to dedicate his life to the theater where he worked as an actor, writer, director till the rest of his life.
He wrote 33 comedies. Some of them were in verse and some of them were in prose and they are believed to be the mirror of the 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 hours after he coughed blood on stage he died on February 17th, 1673 in Paris.