Document Type


Publication Date



Literary portraits, while common in a wide variety of genres, are not often thought of in connection with the stage. Discussions of dramaturgy make little mention of portraits, which is perhaps not surprising when one considers that theater is the domain of action, movement, and conflict; the portrait, on the contrary, is primarily descriptive. Verbal portraiture would not seem to be terribly effective in a theatrical context: it is unlikely to advance the action of the play, nor would it lend itself readily to gesture and movement. Theater requires the physical presence of its object, portraiture depends on a certain absence and remove. Yet portraits are indeed an element of theater, and their existence raises complex structural and dramatic issues which are well illustrated by reference to the theater of Molière.

Document Object Identifier (DOI)



Taylor & Francis

Publication Information

Romance Quarterly