Google celebrated the life and work of actor-cum-playwright Molière on Sunday with a doodle on its homepage. Considered to be the world’s first comic dramatist and one of the greatest artists in the history of French theatre, Moliere had premiered his final play, Le Malade Imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid), on this day back in 1673.
It was a three-act satirical comédie-ballet based on medical profession. Molière played the title role of Argan, a hypochondriac who tries to convince his daughter to sacrifice her true love and marry his doctor’s son to save on medical bills. The Google Doodle provides a sneak peek into Molière’s most memorable scenes from The Imaginary Invalid and some other plays like School for Wives, Don Juan, and The Miser.
Born in Paris in 1622 as Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, Molière was the son of a successful carpenter and upholsterer to the royal court. Rejecting his father’s offer to join the family business, he assumed the stage name Molière and debuted in theatre during the 1640s. Financial hardships even landed Molière in prison for debts before a change in fortune in 1658 when his company performed before a royal audience at the Louvre. Despite royal support, Molière’s un-forgiving and unsparing flair of writing meant those with powerful interests made sincere efforts to censor his work.
His religious satire Tartuffe was banned by the court of King Louis XIV immediately after its first show in 1664. The ban was lifted after five years and Tartuffe came to be acknowledged as one of his masterpieces.
Molière’s spirit continues to inspire today’s generation of comedians, humorists and satirists who share a fearless commitment to criticise hypocrisy with sharp-edged insights.