Essay, Research Paper: Misanthrope Of Moliere


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The Misanthrope by Moliere, 1622 Main characters Alceste - He is in love with
Celimene and very cynical about people and the way they act. Celimene - She is
conceited and shallow being everything that Alceste dislikes in a person.
Philinte - He is a good friend of Alceste but just the opposite in character
since he is less frank and more sincere towards others. Arsinoe - She serves as
a foil to Celimene being just as clever but less shallow. Minor Characters
Eliante - She is Celimene’s good and reasonable cousin. Oronte - He is in love
with Celimene and a writer of poetry. Clitandre - He is another suitor trying to
gain the hand of Celimene. Setting Celimene’s apartment - There is very little
action and very much dialogue in this play which takes place in this apartment.
Plot The play opens with a conversation between Alceste and Philinte. Alceste
shows himself to be very cynical about the motives of people and Philinte shows
himself to be very sincere believing that people should be kind to each other
even if it meant putting on a false face. We learn this through Alceste’s and
Philinte’s comments on a poem written by their friend Oronte. Alceste thinks
it is horrible while Philinte thinks it is wonderful. Philinte also says that
Alceste was too blunt and could have softened his criticism. Later, Alceste
decides to go see Celimene and talk about their relationship. He tells her that
she should get rid of the rest of her suitors and she insists that he is her
only true lover. The rest of the suitors at Celimene’s apartment believe the
same as Alceste. As they are talking, Oronte enters with the marshal who tells
Alceste to apologize to Oronte about the comments he made on his poem. Then
Acaste and Clitandre argue over who is the better lover for Celimene. After that
situation, Arsinoe comes in to confront Celimene about her personality. They
discuss the matter very heatedly and Arsinoe does not succeed in putting down
Celimene. Finally after these conversations, Alceste brings a letter to the
attention of everyone. It is a letter from Celimene to Oronte. He tries to
confront Celimene about it, but she denies any such letter. Alceste wants to
leave all these problems he is having, but Philinte convinces him to stay and
think everything through. Then Oronte goes to Celimene to find out whom she
truly loves and then all of the others come in shortly after. While all of the
characters are together Acaste reads his letter from Celimene that discloses her
feeling about everyone. Once this was revealed, Clitandre and Acaste decide that
she is not worth their time so they leave. Oronte leaves her with a few words
and then Arsinoe tells her a thing or two. Alceste forgives her and still wants
to be with her. She really does not want to be with him and then Alceste decides
that she is really not worth his time and he really does not like her. Philinte
and Eliante decide to get married and make it their duty to make Alceste happy.
Symbols Alceste - He symbolizes the cynicism and hypocrisy of the manners of the
time. Philinte - He symbolizes the sometimes false goodness and friendship of
people. lawsuits - This represents irony and the effects of telling the truth
since Alceste is punished by Oronte with a lawsuit for telling the truth. Style
This is a French tragic comedy written in Alexandrines which are couplets of 6
beats. It was translated into English iambic pentameter with rhymed couplets.
The strong beat and rhyming of the dialogue flow well and enhance the supposed
wit of the characters. Philosophy This is a comedy of manners showing the
hypocrisy that the author saw in the court during his time. He shows through the
play that one should not be painfully frank all the time and not always be
insincere, either. One must find a balance between the two where the truth can
be conveyed with tact. Quotes Alceste, “Friends? Friends, you say? Well, cross
me off your list I’ve been your friend till now as you well know; But after
what I saw a moment ago I tell you flatly that our ways must part. I wish no
place in a dishonest heart.” Alceste expresses his disapproval of the way
Philinte hugs everyone. Act 1, sc 1, ln 9-13. Celimene, “She shows her zeal in
every holy place, But still she’s vain enough to paint her face.” Celimene
talks about how Arsinoe fakes religious piety while still being very vain.
Arsinoe, “I’ve ocular evidence which will persuade you Beyond a doubt; that
Celimene’s betrayed you.” Arsinoe tells Alceste that Celimene in fact does
not love him. Act III, sc vii, ln 354-355. Alceste, “Meanwhile; betrayed and
wronged in everything, I’ll flee this bitter world where vice is king, And
seek some spot unpeopled and apart Where I’ll be free to have an honest
heart.” Alceste tells the audience that he will not compromise his honesty for
anything. Act V, sc viii, ln 335 - 339. Moliere's classic 17th century comedy
views the world through the eyes of it’s title character and reveals the
pretense and posturing amongst the so-called witty literati of the 17th century
French court. It shows us two extremes between the real and the ideal. On the
one hand, we have Alceste, disgusted with the hypocrisy of the world, who has
declared that there is no good in man, and who has vowed never to lie about the
virtues of others. He is, of course, the misanthrope of the title. This attitude
gets him into a considerable amount of trouble, including a law suit which he
loses because he refuses to flatter the judge and the emnity of Oronte, whose
poetry he cannot bring himself to praise. His big problem is that he is in love
with the flirtatious and shallow Célimène (as is his rival Oronte), and
continues to be so despite his knowledge of all her faults, ones which he
depises in others. On the other hand, we have his friend Philinte, (Kevin) who
has the instincts of a courtier, always ready to find a word in praise of
others. Molière manages to make him sufficiently sympathetic that the audience
will not blame or despise him for this in the way that it will some of the other
characters. Nevertheless, the main interest for both Molière and for us is the
character of Alceste, which is only natural given that there are more
possibilities for comedy in a character who is different from everyone else
around him (and from the audience too - a major part of the point of the play),
and who refuses to moderate his principles in any way whatsoever.
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