David Shuhly

Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Thomas J. Mikotowicz

Second Committee Member

Jane Snider

Third Committee Member

T. Paul Pfeiffer


This study will examine how Cardinal Mazarin, through the ballets Le Ballet de la Nuit and Ballet de la Nopces de Pelee et de Thetis, created the image of Louis XIV as the "Sun King." Mazarin, through the power of theatrics and the performance of power, forged Louis's image fiom near-exile to absolute monarch. Both of these ballets created a world, image, and mythology of Louis that affected not only those in attendance, but also the people of France and Europe. Through the use of Italianate scenic practices and technologically advanced machinery, such as Torelli's "chariot-and-pole" system, elaborate costumes, and wonderfully painted and designed settings, a near magical realm was created within the confines of the Petit-Bourbon Hall that amazed those lucky enough to witness it first hand. The first section of this study will examine the history surrounding these ballets - the political conditions, the economics, and the major events leading up to the production of these two ballets. The first section will also give a brief overview of the ballets themselves as well as an introduction to the theories used to analyze them. The second section will examine, in depth, each of these ballets as events within their historical context. This section will include major historical events, descriptions of costumes, machinery, and settings, as well as a short sociopolitical analysis of the ballets. The third section will examine the theories of social psychologist Erving Goffman and performance theorist Richard Schechner and how their theories relate to the production and performance of these two ballets. The conclusion will recap the major premises written about in the first three sections, show how these strategies are still in use, as well as final thoughts on the effects these ballets had on those who witnessed them.