Advertisement

Two Plays in Search of an Audience

  • Nicholas Grene

Abstract

Molière’s Dom Juan and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida are the sort of plays for which the critical case-book might have been invented.1 No-one can agree about anything in either of them, except that they are difficult to understand. They have every variety of problem on which criticism and scholarship thrive: textual problems, a peculiar stage-history, difficulties of authorial intentions and generic classification. Given that this study is based on a notion of the comic contract in which attitudes are agreed, these two plays which invite a bewildering range of different responses, would hardly seem suitable cases for treatment as comedies. It appears to be the outstanding feature of both Dom Juan and Troilus and Cressida to leave any audience doubtful of where they are intended to stand. Yet if we presuppose that Molière and Shakespeare intended us to stand some where, that the plays are not merely incoherent creative accidents, then it is worth trying to establish the sort of audience contract they imply.

Keywords

Comic Contract Modern Critic Henry Versus Midas Touch Normal Story 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    Daniel Seltzer ed. Troilus and Cressida (Signet Shakespeare, N.Y. 1963), pp. xxv–xxvi.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Richard D. Fly ‘ “Suited in Like Conditions as our Argument”: Imitative form in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida’ Studies in English Literature 15 (1975), 281.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Jacques Schérer, Sur le Dom Juati de Molière (Paris 1967), p. 27.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    See, for example, Oscar J. Campbell, Comicall Satyre and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida (San Marino, Calif. 1938).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    T. J. B. Spencer illustrates the Elizabethan bad reputation of the Greeks in ‘ “Greeks” and “Merrygreeks”: a background to Timon of Athens and Troilus and Cressida’ in Essays on Shakespeare and Elizabethan Drama in honour of Hardin Craig, ed. Richard Hosley (London 1963), pp. 223 – 33.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Robert Kimbrough, Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and its Setting (Cambridge, Mass. 1964), p. 45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 9.
    Patricia Thomson ‘Rant and Cant in Troilus and Cressida’ Essays and Studies 22 (1969), 42.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    G. Wilson Knight, The Wheel of Fire (London 4th tsv. ed. 1949), pp. 47–8.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    See Robert Kimbrough ‘The Problem of Thersites’ Modern Language Review 59 (1964), 173–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 13.
    Philip Edwards, Shakespeare and the Confines of Art (London 1968), p. 97.Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    John Bayley, ‘Time and the Trojans’ Essays in Criticism 25 (1975), 55 – 73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 19.
    See particularly Nathan Gross ‘The Dialectic of Obligation in Molière’s Dom Juan, Romanic Review 65 (1974), 175 – 200.Google Scholar
  13. 21.
    Jules Brody, ’Dom Juan and Le Misanthrope, or the Esthetics of Individualism in Molière’ PMLA, 84 (1969), 559–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 22.
    Richard Coe has a convincing analysis of this scene in an admirable article on ‘The Ambiguity of Domjuan’, Australian Journal of French Studies I (1964), 23 – 35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 24.
    This general point of view may be said to originate with W. G. Moore in Molière: a New Criticism but it has been developed both in Moore’s own later article ‘Dow Juan Reconsidered’, Modern Language Review 52 (1957), 510– 17,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. and in two articles of Gaston Hall, ‘A Comic Domjuan’, Yale French Studies 23 (1959), 77–84, and ‘Molière, Dom Juan: “la scène du pauvre” ’, in The Art of Criticism, ed. Peter H. Nurse (Edinburgh 1969), pp. 69–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 26.
    Jean Onimus sees Dom Juan as a scapegoat figure, at once threatening and liberating — ‘Le Mystère de Dom Juan’, Annales du Centre Universitaire Méditeranéen 26 (1973), 55 – 9.Google Scholar
  18. 30.
    Joseph Pineau ‘Dom juan “mauvais élève”’, Revue des Sciences Humaines 38 (1973), 586.Google Scholar
  19. 31.
    Neville Coghill, Shakespeare’s Professional Skills (Cambridge 1964), p. 97.Google Scholar
  20. 32.
    Jean Rousset ‘Dom Juan et le Baroque’ Diogène 14 (1956), 3 – 21.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Nicholas Grene 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Grene

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations