Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 327
• The Imaginary Invalid is a comedy both in the classical sense of the word (a story with a happy ending) and in the sense that it is meant to be humorous. Seventeenth-century audiences found the play quite humorous. Explore the differences in humor between seventeenth-century France and twenty-first-century America, and explain why certain parts of the play would have been humorous then, but are not as humorous now. What techniques and sources does Molière use to amuse his audience, and which comedic traditions are the most important to The Imaginary Invalid?
• Molière was a masterful actor as well as a playwright, and he played the role of Argan for the first four performances of The Imaginary Invalid. Research Molière’s life and discuss the reasons he might have chosen to write this role for himself. Consider how Argan’s imaginary illnesses might have related to Molière’s real illnesses, from which he died after the play’s fourth performance. Also, discuss more broadly how you think Molière combined his acting and writing talents, and how each were affected by the other.
• Read two or three other comedies by Molière, such as Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, and/or Don Juan. Compare the common themes and techniques of the plays you read. Which of the plays do you find most applicable to today’s concerns? What makes The Imaginary Invalid unique? Many critics have found themes that are present throughout Molière’s works; discuss some themes that you notice arising again and again, and compare how they are treated in each play.
• Sometimes Molière’s comedy is difficult to visualize on the page. Act out one of the more farcical scenes, such as act 2, scene 5, in which Argan and Monsieur Diafoirus keep attempting to speak at the same time. Then try performing or reading aloud your favorite scene in the play. Discuss how this reading/performance enhances your understanding of the scene.
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