Compare the theatre world of Shakespeare to that of Moliere.17th century theatre in England and in France

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While both men's careers began with struggles for success, the theatre that Shakespeare developed differed greatly from that of Moliere in its audiences.  Whereas William Shakespeare's locations in the great halls of London's inns and at bawdy inns, and at the Globe Theatre accommodated every level of society and played to them as well, Moliere's success came when he brought his company to Paris in 1658 and played to King Louis XIV who housed Moliere's theatre in a part of the Louvre, the royal castle.  In this location, Moliere became a success.  Rather than catering to the royalty as Shakespeare did, as, for example, in such plays as "Macbeth," in which Macbeth is portrayed as the evil doer rather than Duncan, Moliere captured the affectations of the aristocracy and the absurdities of the salons, satirizing them so skillfully that even the "blue stockings" and the "gallants" were obliged to laugh at themselves.  The French king loved these satires, as well. As a result, Moliere chose contemporary life as his tableaux rather than historical figures and events as did Shakespeare.

In genre, the plays of Moliere differ greatly from those of Shakespeare.  For the most part, Moliere is known for his comedies of manners in which he satirizes and parodies nobles, doctors, priests, and actors. He himself continued acting in the plays right until his death.

Like Shakespeare Moliere reveals an acute understanding of human nature.  What interested him was how a man could act when vanity conceit hypocrisy or greed gained control (much like Shakespeare).  But, Moliere could bring action to a climax without asides, soliloquies, and the use of confidants; and, of course, he did this all in comedies of manner and the comedie-ballet, whereas Shakespeare's most revealing plays are often considered the tragedies.