The third Hyde lecture on "Moliere," delivered yesterday by Professor Abel Lefranc, the eminent authority on the literature of the French Renaissance, was devoted chiefly to a discussion of the relations of "Don Juan" to the great quarrel treated in the previous lecture and to a consideration of "Le Misanthrope."
The attacks of the clergy did not cease with "Le Tartuffe," nor after the death of Moliere, who all through his life continued the struggle in the conviction that he was the leader of the new forces and was supported by the court. The spirit of "Le Tartuffe" harmonized with the great festivities of the year 1664, when Moliere was at the apogee of his career as grand master of ceremonies.
Professor Lefranc advanced another interesting theory, that Moliere wrote "Don Juan" as an attack on his former patron, the Prince de Conti, who had lately gone over to the church party and had inveighed against. "Le Tartuffe" from that point of view. This great blow to Moliere was revenged by the faithful portrayal of the Prince in the figure of the libertine, Don Juan.
In "Le Misanthrope" the mental process by which Alceste becomes a cynic is that which took place in Moliere's mind. Disappointments at court, failing health and the character of Alceste itself produced general cynicism. Here the dramatist scores the court excesses and attacks society at large.
The final lecture of the series will be given Monday afternoon at 4 o'clock in the New Lecture Hall. M. Lefranc will sketch briefly the social conditions of Moliere's age and will also treat of the feminine element in his works.