Corneille was born in Rouen, in the family of an official. He graduated from the Jesuit College, received a lawyer position. Once, as the legend tells, one of Corneille’s friends introduced him to his lover, but she preferred Pierre to her former admirer. This story prompted Corneille to write a comedy. Thus appeared his “Melita” (1629). Then – “Klitander”, “Widow”, “Court Gallery”, “Royal Square” – now forgotten. After the “comic illusion”, with its incredible heap of fantastic creatures and accidents, Corneille created “Sid” – the tragedy that opened the glorious history of the French national theater, was the national pride of the French.
“Sid” brought to the author the praise of the people and the irritation of Richelieu (because there are political motives – the Spanish hero). Richelieu envied, because he himself was a bad poet. They attacked Corneille. The Academy began to look for errors and deviations from the “rules” of classicism. The playwright fell silent for a moment. In 1639-1640 – the tragedy of “Horace” and “Cinna”, 1643 – “Polievkt”. In 1652 – the tragedy “Pertarit” – a complete failure. Silence for seven years, then in 1659 – “Oedipus.” In his place comes Racine. Corneille does not want to give up. Voltaire in 1731 in the poem
The dramatic principles of Corneille. He sometimes violated the rule of three oneness (time, action and place). He said that he was not retreating because he did not know them. Sometimes he challenged them. All tragedies are built on the use of historical facts. Psychological conflicts, the history of feelings, the vicissitudes of love in his tragedy receded into the background. His main characters are always kings or outstanding heroic personalities. The main dramatic conflict of K. – the conflict of reason and feelings, will and attraction, duty and passion.
“Sid”. Corneille’s heroes are higher than normal human growth, in this respect they are somewhat romantic, but they are people with feelings, passions and sufferings inherent in people, they are people of great will. They are healthy people physically and morally. They are characterized by strong feelings, but then a significant victory over them. The image of Sid – a Spanish hero worthy of laurels, his life – a series of victories. Information about the Side – the historical face of Rodrigo Diaz – K. could receive from the heroic medieval poem dedicated to the Spanish hero, from knightly songs. But Corneille’s “Sid” is a completely original, national French work. Of the many stories about Side, K. took only one – the story of his marriage. Up to the limit I simplified the scheme of the plot, reduced the number of characters to a minimum, took out all events from the scene. Actions are committed somewhere out there,
Conflict of duty and feelings:
• Yesterday the fathers of beloved friends, today – opponents.
· The suffering image of the infant, the daughter of the king, inspires sad thoughts about the emptiness and vanity of those class prejudices that people entangled their relationship with each other (“Oh God Almighty, / Do not let triumph of anguish oppress me, / And protect my peace, honor fence To be happy, I give my happiness “).
Corneille, in order to psychologically justify Rodrigo’s revenge for his dishonored father, showed the clear injustice of Gormas: Don Diego was trying in every way to pacify the Count.
· Rodrigo does not hesitate, even the thought that one can leave an insult without revenge would be dishonor. But the young man suffers, he knows that he loses his beloved forever. The father and lover, love and honor were in an unsolvable contradiction, mutually excluding each other. One decision led him to a loss of happiness, another – to shame.
· Jimena in front of a terrible dilemma, because he can not lead Sid to the path of shame in the name of love.
· Gormas is an arrogant feudal lord who has not recognized the authority of royal power: he has recognized from the very beginning the decision of the king not to be discussed, as Don Diego advised him, there would be no conflict.
· Young people fall under the weight of the aesthetic norms imposed on them. “How much suffering and tears our fathers will cost us!”
Don Diego argues with all the coldness of the old logic: “We have one honor, but so many lovers! Love is only fun, honor is a duty!”
The tragedy of Corneille ends with a happy ending. Young people are united by the king’s orders. The duty of tribal honor and blood revenge is inferior to the new laws, which oppose to it a civil and patriotic duty. Interests state above interests of a sort and a family. Thus, the ideology of state absolutism was formed, which at that time acted as historical conditions in the guise of a class monarchy and struggled with feudal fragmentation and anti-state anarchy in institutions and morals.