The philosophy of laughter in Moliere’s Theatre (the case study: The Miser)

Journal of Philosophical Investigations 18 (46):345-362 (2024)
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Abstract

The exploration of laughter’s philosophical significance within the realm of performing arts, particularly the French classical theatre of the seventeenth century, reveals a profound connection to the comedic genre. This literary form, characterized by its gentle yet satirical nature, aims to critique and amend the behavioral and societal flaws of individuals. It often portrays a protagonist whose moral attributes and actions defy societal norms, depicted on stage in an exaggerated manner, amplified and interwoven with theatrical techniques such as verbal wit, comedic behavior, and the humorous repetition of scenarios. Through this lens, comedic dialogue not only elicits laughter but also conveys an ethical message, emerging from the critique of society’s distasteful customs and pervasive misconceptions. The comic and humorous approach offers a fresh, conciliatory perspective on life, contrasting the somber, oppressive reality presented in tragedy, thus serving as a potent vehicle for engaging diverse social groups. This study briefly touches upon the history and evolution of the laughter element, or the comedic genre, within French literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It delves into the critical issue and examines the techniques and performances that induce laughter in The Miser, extending the discussion to encompass the philosophy of laughter.

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