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Misanthrope Of Moliere Essay, Research Paper

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 C?lim?ne (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. Moli?re 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 Moli?re 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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