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Savoir et économie dans l'œuvre de Molière
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Romance Languages.
2001 (French)Book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study deals with some aspects of desire in the work of Molière. It is shown that an important number ofthe author's more significant characters are distinguished by an overwhelming desire for knowledge andeconomic profit that proves impossible to satisfy.

The first pan of the thesis concentrates on the issue of knowledge. Regardless of whether the discussionconcerns characters who desire to gain knowledge from others or characters who wish to obtain knowledgeby their own efforts only, the shared feature is always that of aspiration for a knowledge that is absolute andthat has bearing on the characters themselves as desiring subjects. Persons like Arnolphe, Alceste, Philaminteand Argan all have in common the fact that they believe in absolute certainty. This discussion is partly placedin the framework of Lacanian psychoanalysis.

The second part of the study deals with the economic dimensions of Molière's plays. In Molière, there isan economy of exchange, an economy of investment and an economy of the system of values held by thecharacters themselves. It is first shown that the desire for knowledge and the desire for economic profit areactually the same : a desire for completeness. This explains why the characters who strive to attainknowledge also tend to disrespect the rules of exchange. Certainty and completeness are impossible inMolière and this fact determines for example the mechanisms of love, sexuality and marriage. In fact,Molière's world is a world of uncertainty and high risk investment where no one can be sure of getting whatthey hope for. It is finally established in the thesis that the problem of completeness also involves the issue ofidentity. It is argued that the identity of Molière's characters is essentially differential, that is each person isdefined in relation to others. The problem is however that certain individuals are not satisfied with beingrecognized as different from others but demand also the recognition of their superiority. From this point ofview, Molière's theatre can be seen as an illustration of Pierre Bourdieu's theories of symbolic domination.Bourdieu as well as Molière shows that social hierarchy is an economic system where some embody morevalue than others. The study argues that the desire for value is fundamentally a desire for completeness andtrue being as opposed to incompleteness and mear appearence of reality.

The conclusion is that completeness is impossible in Molière and that this is what some of the author's best known protagonists refuse to accept.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2001, Éd. remaniée. , 196 p.
Studia Romanica Upsaliensia, ISSN 0562-3022 ; 62
Keyword [en]
Romance languages - general
Keyword [sv]
Romanska språk - allmänt
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Romance Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-1175ISBN: 91-554-4978-6OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-1175DiVA: diva2:160727
Available from: 2000-04-22 Created: 2000-04-22 Last updated: 2013-06-12Bibliographically approved

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