in Dialogues and Addresses

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780226502410
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226502403 | DOI:

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This section of the book presents dialogues created by Maintenon. The dialogues were composed for classroom performance by older pupils at Saint-Cyr. They constituted one of the theatrical genres used by Maintenon in her schema of education as a reaction against the worldliness of the original Saint-Cyr curriculum. Most of the dialogues attempt to clarify a moral quality to be cultivated by a student audience. The dialogues presented here debate virtues such as justice, courage, prudence, temperance, piety, and wit. The dialogues follow a similar structure. Several female characters discuss a moral dilemma of obvious concern to adolescent women of aristocratic background. Part of the effectiveness of the plays lies in Maintenon's skillful use of her characters as projections of her adolescent audience's typical beliefs, questions, and anxieties about the future. Attentive to the gender of her audience, Maintenon repeatedly transformed the meaning of a virtue from its traditional male associations to traits associated a female experience.

Keywords: Maintenon; Saint-Cyr; curriculum; moral quality; moral dilemma; student audience; gender

Chapter.  18006 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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