French Neoclassicism Essay

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French Neoclassicism The French Neo-classical era started in about 1550 and came to a close in 1715 with the death of Louis XIV (Howarth 220). “Neoclassicism emerged during turbulent times in France… Religious attacks between Catholics and Huguenots (i.e. Protestants) began, and continued intermittently for sixty years. Church plays were banned in 1548 by Henri II, most likely because of the huge religious uproar during this period. The ban on religious plays dealt a painful blow to French theatre, but its prohibition allowed secular theatre to develop” (Joyeuse). However the movement did not come into full swing until 1598, under the reign of Henri IV, with the enactment of the Edict of Nantes. This guaranteed religious freedom and thus ended the war and the ban on religious theatre (Joyeuse). Although they were no longer laws, restricting the theatre, there was still a list of rules that were imperative to all neoclassical plays. The most important being a strict following of the Aristotelian unities: time, place, and action (Quick); the unity of time restricted all action in a play to one 24 hour period, that is to say there were no lapses and everything happened in real time; The unity of place required that all the action happened in the same location; and the unity of action “required one central story, involving a relatively small group of characters, no sub-plots” (Joyeuse).It was also required that Neo-classical plays be verisimilar or probable. Reality, Morality, and Universality were equally important in writing a neoclassical play (Quick). The plays had to be realistic, probable and possible, not of a dream-like or other world; moral, good guys win and bad guys get punished; and universal, relative to a large group in the society. Furthermore all of these plays were didactic or taught a lesson (Joyeuse). Most neoclassical comedy and tragedy was
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