Moliere, the composer of the play entitled The Would-Be Gentleman, refers to his artwork as comedy-ballet. This means that his piece of work is a comedy revolving around social ascension and manners; it consists of exceptional blends of comedy, music, fantasy, and realism. Moreover it portrays the pandemonium brought out by Mr. Jourdain’s craving to turn into an aristocrat at all expenses.
The author’s big break came when he professionally managed to merge several aspects of literature to come up with a good unified dramatic piece of work. Moliere employs the whole variety of elements such as comedy, fantasy, spectacle, dance, song, and music to try and build the comical consequences possible to happen when Jourdain’s absurd desires drive him to the highly unexpected extremes. To further show the impossibilities revolving around Mr. Jourdain, Moliere ends the play with a ridiculous ceremony where Lucile, who is Jourdain’s daughter, is getting married to a foreign royalty; thus, he is pleased as he would be ennobled. Therefore, in essence, Jourdain never ascended to nobility or to a social ladder; he just continued living in his world of fantasy.
‘Bourgeois gentilhomme’ principally referred to those people and, predominantly, gentlemen who wanted to ascend the social ladder and attain nobility; such individuals were commonly known as the would-be nobles. This term describes a middle-classed aristocrat who longed to be recognized by the superior aristocracy who belonged to the highest social class. In this play, the example of ‘bourgeois gentilhomme’ is Jourdain; he is living an ostentatious middle-class life but keeps struggling to ensure that he is given the title “Gentleman” by all means and, at the same time, to be referred to as a member of aristocracy.
The story of The Would-Be Gentleman revolves around Mr. Jourdain, who is the protagonist; even though he is a middle-class member, he is dreaming, or rather fantasizing, of climbing the social ladder and becoming an aristocrat and nobility in the society. Since over the years he has amassed considerable wealth, he presumes that he ought to aim for something that is more sophisticated and tasteful than the mere mediocrity his social class has offered him. Therefore, so as to evolve into aristocracy and refinement, he foolishly takes up classes in fencing, philosophy, as well as music and dance lessons. He pretentiously believes that he is attracted to everything that is built on equality; basically, he is attracted to the life of upper class just like how a magpie is blindly drawn to shiny and gold objects.
The house of Mr. Jourdain was living a presumptuous life full of blind vanity, mainly due to Jourdain himself. The main character’s desires and longing affected him so much such that he could not see the bitter truth of his fake buffoonery life. His wife was intelligent enough to note that Jourdain was living a fake and pretentious life and, therefore, was just making a complete fool out of himself. As a result, she goes further to advise him to return to their former middle-class life as well as forget everything he had learnt. Jourdain blindly believes in everything Dorante tells him; this shows how foolish he is. The man goes further to claim that his daughter, Lucille, has to be married to a person of nobility. Jourdain himself desired to marry a mistress from the noble family and, for this reason, he utilizes his impoverished and parasitic friend so as to assist him win the heart of countess Dorimene, who was a widow. It is interesting how things turn out at the end where Cleonte, who was the lover of Lucille, tricks her father into allowing them to marry.
The aristocracy would have liked this story since it shows how some people would die to enter the nobility class. The nobility class in France at that time was traditionally considered to be morally, economically as well as socially superior to each and every other class in the society; therefore, they were respected and commonly were regarded as philosophers. Jourdain is obsessed with the thought that he ought to be awarded the title of gentleman even though he knew that title was only given to those born in a family that was noble or had noble affiliations. Therefore, the aristocracy would have been amused by the actions of Jourdain towards achieving membership in their social class, which not only showed his folly, but also indicated the degree of fantasy he was living in.
Due to this story, one can realize that the current society has numerous bourgeois gentlemen and gentlewomen as many people try had to reach the top. They presume that the superior class possesses a certain degree of respect and numerous privileges; therefore, they try to do everything possible to climb that ladder. These people suppose that the superior class, or rather nobility, represents romance, dignity, elegance, refinement, quality, and beauty; they also believe that all these things are not achievable in their current social class. For instance, in the society I live, I have happened to interact with different people from diverse backgrounds – either from the upper, middle, or even the lowest social classes; quite a number of them seem to live in a fantasy world. One of them took pains to pretend to be living a lavish life and it was long before I found out that his parents were actually trying to make ends meet.
Moreover, if to analyze The Would-Be Gentleman further on, there are elements that remain or are similar to the ones in our society today; some of them include insatiable consumerism and the promise and potential of achieving social mobility. Mr. Jourdain is very certain that, after receiving everything of good taste needed by a good man, he would definitely acquire the royalty status of being a gentleman. This makes him the central figure of laughter and ridicule in the whole play due to his desire of attaining social approbation. Likewise, in the current society, many people tend to take up this character, both males and females; they wish to obtain titles and add them to their identities, thus becoming known and respected. The people most driven by such motivation in the present society are the middle class members who always desire and dream of getting social ascendancy at whichever cost. Such obsession creates a group of people who are easily manipulated, desperate as well as dishonest in their endeavors.
The author of the play puts a major compelling issue found in the whole story, which is social pretension. The protagonist tries hard to act as a nobleman, even though he is a completely different type. The message behind the play addresses those ordinary people in the society who attempt so hard to appear as if they were higher in terms of social class as well as nobility. Therefore, the clear picture is that people ought to be contented with whatever they have and live within those parameters. The society will definitely see you as a person full of desires and dishonesty and they will ironically despise you.