The bourgeois French of the 18th century were characterized by a social code that required a certain manner of speech and action in the areas of dress, love, parties, and childhood. Following these rules rendered one elegant, charming, and elite, in addition to ensuring social success and proving one’s inner nobility. The comedic works of Marivaux and the breathtaking paintings of Watteau’s collection La Fête Galante eloquently summarize this mode of life. Under the guise of art and entertainment, Watteau and Marivaux, respectively, reveal the lifestyle and intentions of the bourgeois community in the same indirect manner by which that very community led their lives. In his work, Arlequin, Poli par l’Amour, Marivaux introduces Arlequin into the masquerade lifestyle of the bourgeois and Arlequin slowly becomes accustomed to the requirements of this world of rules and fêtes, primarily as they apply to love. Watteau produced two works, La Danse, which reveals a microcosm of the adult world through children’s playtime, and Le Faux Pas, which gives insight into the rules of gallant love. Further examination and comparison of these modes of critique uncovers new commentary concerning the French bourgeois lifestyle of the 18th century.
"The Masquerade in Watteau and Marivaux,"
Vol. 3, Article 11.
Available at: http://uknowledge.uky.edu/kaleidoscope/vol3/iss1/11