Seventeenth century French society was a time in which the arts flourished and were used to create an eminence of power and absolutism. The gardens of Vaux-le-Vicomte were commissioned by Nicolas Fouquet and designed by André Le Nôtre. The gardens created a political and social space through the characteristics of design and standards of order which together conveyed power and absolutism. Louis XIV, newly crowned king, recognized at Vaux the perfect vehicle for the portrayal of power. French theater at the same time was gaining popularity and establishing itself as a great art form. Similar to the gardens at Vaux which illustrated beauty and power through order and careful design, the theater also was subject to specific guidelines of order and design. Powerful men such as Cardinal Richelieu helped to establish the early acceptance and development of theater at this time. Principles set forth for the theater were followed in order to create the perfect theatrical illusion onstage. Standards such as those set forth by Scudéry, d'Aubignac and the Academy were closely followed while plays such as Pierre Corneille's Le Cid were criticized for their lack of adherence to the rules. Trends and elements of formal gardens aligned with similar trends in French theater to reflect the power of the king. This power was doubly manifested through the garden setting and the theatrical performances which took place within them. The festivities of The Pleasures of the Enchanted Isle presented numerous plays by Molière such as Les Fâcheux and Tartuffe. These works demonstrated the power of the king while the week-long festivities created a space in which real and the desire for reality combined.



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Humanities; Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature



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garden, Scudéry, Tartuffe, Les Fâcheux, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Versailles, Louis XIV, d'Aubignac, Richelieu, Fouquet, André Le Nôtre, Theatrical Illusion