Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 247
L'Ecole des Femmes (1662; The School for Women), by Moliere, was a popular success in its initial production but created controversy that lasted for over a year. The story concerns a man who, afraid of the power of mature women, opts to marry an inexperienced young woman only to find himself at her mercy.
Tartuffe (1667), by Moliere, was so controversial that it was cancelled shortly after its first run and not performed publicly again until years later. Tartuffe is now considered among Moliere's masterpieces and is the most popular choice of his plays for student productions.
Le Malade Imaginaire (1673; The Hypochondriac), by Moliere, starred, in its initial production, Moliere himself as the hypochondriac who is afraid of doctors. He had written the part to suit the cough from tuberculosis he suffered but collapsed on stage during the fourth performance and died several hours later.
The Plain Dealer (1676), by William Wycherley, is an English comedy of manners of the Restoration period, frequently compared to Moliere's The Misanthrope. It presents a crudely expressed, harsh satire of greed among the upper classes.
Phedre (1677), by Jean Racine, is the masterpiece of the great seventeenth-century tragic playwright. It concerns a woman who is hopelessly in love with her stepson.
The Importance of Being Ernest (1895), by Oscar Wilde, is an English comedy of manners of the late nineteenth-century. The plot concerns two young men, both of whom have invented imaginary alter-egos, in a drawing-room farce centered on their romantic dealings with two young women.