As a young man, Jean Baptiste Poquelin had the option of following his father's footsteps into a comfortable position as a furnisher to the king - but at the age of 20 he renounced this easy life, threw in his lot with a struggling theater company, and called himself Moliere. And in that penniless company, learning his craft through years in front of the footlights, he developed the skills and dramatic techniques that helped make him France's greatest master of stage comedy.
"The Bourgeois Gentleman", an instant success at its debut in 1670, is a classic satire in which Moliere pokes delicious fun at the sham and hypocrisy of 17th-century French society. A wealthy tradesman by the name of Monsieur Jourdain yearns to become a gentleman in order to win the favor of the beautiful Dorimene, a marchioness - disregarding the inconvenient fact that he is already married. He patronizes a fashionable tailor who leads him into sartorial absurdities, and hires tutors in music, dancing, fencing, and philosophy - all of whom turn out to be as vain and ridiculous as Monsieur Jourdain. Gently satirizing the pretensions of a social climber whose affectations are absurd to everyone but himself, Moliere injects an abundance of keen wit and humor into a play universally regarded as one of his best and most popular.