Social comment through comedy: Five plays by Emile Augier

Patricia Marie Morris, Fordham University


This dissertation demonstrates how Augier's work can be used as a valuable resource of information and ideas on the emerging bourgeois class in France. Five plays are analyzed with the aim of highlighting how Augier used the virtues and vices, the ideas and issues important to that society in his plots, and the common men and women of that society as his heroes and villains. The first play, l'Aventuriere, representative of Augier's early theater, is written in verse, and has characteristics of romantic, neo-classical and realist theater. Augier, though writing about a family in fourteenth century Padua, imposes the values of the nineteenth century bourgeoisie on the plot and characters. The second play, le Gendre de Monsieur Poirier, depicts the quintessential battle between the bourgeoisie and the nobility. Augier portrays both sides with great detail and sympathy, and manages to remain impartial while doing so. It is a portrait of a society in flux, one side's abdication of responsibility, and the other's eagerness to obtain as much power as money can buy. The third play, Mai tre Guerin, deals with a corrupt bourgeois fonctionnaire, greedy for money and power, adhering to the letter, though not the spirit, of the law. Literacy, mandatory education and the spirit of invention are also currents which run throughout. The fourth, Madame Caverlet, discusses divorce, and demonstrates what the lack of a divorce law in France can do to those for whom it is the only honorable solution. Les Fourchambault, Augier's last play, is about money, how it can divide a family, and how a person's origins do not determine his or her potential. A secondary theme touches on the difficulties of the working woman during this era. This choice of plays covers a wide area of topics important in France in the last century, as well as covering the span of Augier's work.

Subject Area

Romance literature|Theater

Recommended Citation

Morris, Patricia Marie, "Social comment through comedy: Five plays by Emile Augier" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9628347.