Further Critical Evaluation of the Work
Molière was France’s greatest writer of comic drama, and his forte was farce. THE DOCTOR IN SPITE OF HIMSELF (LE MEDECIN MALGRE LUI) is one of his best pure farces. In this play, he takes to task two issues with special contemporary relevance: medical venality and the medical mystique. It was as much a fact of life in Molière’s time as it is now that doctors are more concerned about money than about the welfare of patients. Thus, when Sganarelle accedes to the role forced upon him, he does so out of greed, rather than for any other motive. Furthermore, he is able to pull off the charade because of the general cultural attitude toward physicians—a religious respect for the doctor’s presumably arcane knowledge. Hence, Sganarelle can indulge his most outrageously eccentric fantasies in the course of deceiving—and bilking—Geronte while pretending (as an authentic doctor would) to cure Lucinde, all the while abetting the latter to elope with the mate of her choice.
In the course of these wildly hectic machinations, Molière manages to assail not only the medical profession but also its gullible clients, as well as social climbers, materialists, impractical lovers, faithless servants, and many other social types endemic to his times and persistent in ours. Such, after all, is the impetus and goal of satire, whether it be couched in Molière’s farce, in irony, or in some other comedic form. The point of this kind of drama is to expose...
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