Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


As the King of France stood as the very pillar of seventeenth century French society and government, it should not be surprising that the dramatist Pierre Corneille, as a gifted political thinker and observer, should include a monarch, most often a king, in almost all of his tragedies. Indeed, more than other dramatists of his age, Corneille is concerned with the sovereign's role, for, evoking constantly his awesome powers and functions, he places him at the very epicentre of his dramatic universe.;Having recognized the importance of the Cornelian monarch, we felt compelled to examine this imposing figure too often ignored in the numerous studies on the famous "heros cornelien." Our primary objective was to discern the nature of the Cornelian sovereign through a chronological study of the twenty-five plays in which he appears. Upon discovering that certain types, such as the magnanimous prince or the evil tyrant are particular to a given historical period, the "image royale" thus constantly evolving, we ventured that Corneille was influenced to a degree by the historical reality of which he was always a keen observer, and that in certain instances, he was actually using the monarch for didactic purposes, attempting to inspire particular royal virtues.;No less important than the study of the monarch is that of the political themes, for rare is the play in which Corneille does not evoke explicitly the political concerns of the ruler. Indeed, the Cornelian sovereigns do not inhabit a pastoral society devoid of political dilemmas or foes. However, it must be noted that the rulers do not share the same problems. Like the "image royale," the political themes evolve with the times, thus reinforcing our hypothesis of the strong link between Cornelian tragedy and seventeenth century France.;Having traced the "image royale" and the political themes through more than four decades of tragedies, we thus conclude that the monarch represents an extremely important aspect of Corneille's writing through which he constantly reveals his concerns as a political thinker and a human being deeply affected by the dilemmas of a troubled age.



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