Absolute Power and the Aristocratic Style

  1. 1. Moliere’s play Le Bourgeois Gentilhommeis a satire. It pokes fun at the weaknesses and foibles of the aristocracy and of the middle class social climbers such as Mr. Jourdain who want to become aristocrats. Your textbook author points out, however, that the presentation of human nature in this, as in all of Moliere’s plays, is “universal and timeless” (75), which means that you could set this play in the 21st century and still find the same types of characters in the same situations behaving in similar ways. To consider the truth of this statement, I’d like you to choose one of the scenes (or pairs of scenes) listed below and discuss what you think Moliere is satirizing in that scene (what behavior or character type) and whether it is still relevant today. Give current examples.

Scenes to choose from:

  • Act I, Scene I:Artists discussing their patron
  • Act II, Scenes III and IV:A discussion of which profession is most important
  • Scene VI: Jourdain as aspiring intellectual
  • Scenes VII and VIII: Jourdain as fashion victim
  1. 2. If you could take a time machine back as a visitor to one of the countries orempiresdescribed in Chapter 21 during their days of absolute rule, which one would you choose? Why? What would you want to see and learn on your visit? (Give me a complete paragraph on this one and provide sufficient details to show you read the chapter.)
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