With his temper, beliefs and actions Alceste does not cease to surprise people close to him, and now even his old friend Philinte he refused to consider a friend - because he was talking too warmly with the man whose name he could not later even remember. From the Alceste’s point of view his former friend showed low hypocrisy, incompatible with a genuine spiritual advantage. In response to the Philinte’s objection that living in a society, a person is not free from the habits and customs required of decency, Alceste strongly condemned ungodly secular of infamy lies and pretense. No, Alceste insisted, always and in all circumstances people must tell the truth in the face, never stooping to flattery.
Alceste not only declared aloud loyalty to his convictions, but also argued in fact. So, for example, he refused to fast-talk the judge from whom depended the outcome of important litigation for him, and to the house of his beloved Célimène, where he found Philinte, Alceste came precisely to cleanse her soul from sin scale with the inspired by love hard-hitting speeches cleanse, and let such speech be unpleasant Célimène.
The conversation was interrupted by of the young man Oronte. He too, like Alceste, harbored tender feelings to the charming coquette and now wished to present to Alceste and Philinte with a new sonnet dedicated to her. After hearing the work, Philinte awarded it with elegant, nowhere binding praise to please the extraordinary writer. Alceste told frankly, smashed the fruit of poetic inspiration of Oronte, and with his sincerity, as one would expect, he has acquired a mortal enemy.
Célimène was not used that admirers - and she had a lot of them - sought a date only to grumble and curse. And just so Alceste behaved. The most hotly he denounced Célimène’s frivolity, that in one way or another she gave favor to all the cavaliers. She objected that it is not in her power to stop attracting fans – she does nothing, everything happens by itself. On the other hand, not to drive them all from the threshold, and it is nice to accept tokens, and sometimes - when they come from people who have weight and influence - useful. Only Alceste, said Célimène, is loved by her for real, and it is much better that she is equally cordial to all, and does not single out one of them, thus does not give grounds for jealousy. But this argument does not convinced Alceste of the benefits of innocent frivolity.
When is reported of two visitors - Marquis Acaste and Marquise Clitandre – it was disgusting for Alceste and he left; rather, breaking himself remained. Célimène’s conversation with marquises developed exactly as Alceste had expected it - the hostess and guests tastefully washed up bones of their secular friends, and in each found something worthy of ridicule, one stupid, another boastful and vain, with the third no one would support the friendship, if it was not rare talents of his chef.
Célimène’s sharp tongue deserved Marquises’ stormy praises, and it was the last straw for Alceste, hitherto not opening his mouth. He heartily denounced and cursed companions, and pernicious flattery, through which fans indulged girl’s weaknesses.
Alceste decided not to leave Célimène alone with Acaste and Clitandre, but to fulfill this intention prevented a policeman, who appeared with a prescription to deliver immediately Alceste to the administration. Philinte persuaded him to obey - he believed that all the matter was in the quarrel between Alceste and Oronte because of the sonnet. Perhaps, in the gendarmerie they decided to make it up between them.
Brilliant court cavaliers Acaste and Clitandre were accustomed to easy success in affairs of the heart. Among the fans of Célimène they resolutely did not find anyone who could make them at least some competition, and therefore they have concluded such an agreement between themselves: who of the two would present a valid proof of the favor of beauty, he won the battlefield; the other would not disturb him.
Meanwhile, Arsinoé declared a visit to Célimène, who was considered to be her friend. Célimène was convinced that the Arsinoé’s virtue and humility preached only involuntarily - to the extent that her own pitiful charms could not induce anyone to violate the boundaries of modesty and virtue. However, Célimène met the guest quite kindly.
Arsinoé having just entered, referred to the rumors surrounding the name of Célimène. She herself, of course, did not believe for a second in these speculations, but she strongly advised Célimène to change habits giving such soil. In response Célimène - as long as friends will certainly have to speak truth in the eye – told what Arsinoé is said about: pious in church, Arsinoé hits her servants and does not pay them any money. And advice for Arsinoé at Célimène was ready: look after herself, and only then after the neighbors. Word for word, the dispute of girlfriends almost turned into a squabble, when Alceste returned.
Célimène left leaving Alceste alone with Arsinoé, who had long been secretly indifferent to it. Wanting to be a pleasant companion, Arsinoé spoke about how easy Alceste can please people; using this gift, she thought he could succeed at the court. Extremely dissatisfied, Alceste replied that the court career is good for anyone, but not for him - a man with a rebellious spirit, bold and abhorring hypocrisy and pretense.
Arsinoé hastily changed the subject and began to denigrate Célimène in the eyes of Alceste saying that she cheated on him, but he did not want to believe the charges. Then Arsinoé promised that Alceste would soon receive the proof of his lover’s cunning.
What Arsinoe was indeed right, was that Alceste, despite its strangeness, had the gift to dispose people to himself. So, Célimène’s cousin Eliante endured a deep spiritual inclination to him. She even told Philinte that would gladly become his wife, whenever he was not passionately in love with another.
Philinte genuinely wondered how his friend could be inflamed to flirting Célimène, not prefer her to the example of virtues Eliante. Alceste Union of Eliante and Alceste woul please Philinte, but if Alceste still married Célimène, he with great pleasure would suggest Eliante his hand and heart.
Declaration of love Philinte could not complete because of Alceste bursting into the room, all blazing with anger and indignation. He just got a letter fully exposing Célimène’s infidelity and deceit. According to the transferor the letter was addressed to Oronte, with whom he had scarcely time to come to terms with the mediation of authorities. Alceste has decided to break up with Célimène, and in addition also to marry Eliante. Let this insidious see what happiness she deprived herself of.
Eliante advised Alceste to try to reconcile with his beloved, but he, seeing Célimène, unleashed on her bitter and insulting allegations. Célimène did not consider the letter reprehensible because, in her words, the recipient was a woman, but when the girl got tired of reassuring Alceste in her love and to hear in the response only rudeness, she announced that if he was so pleased, she wrote indeed to the Oronte, who fascinated her with his innumerable virtues.
Stormy explanation were put o an end by the appearance of the frightened servants of Alceste, Dubois. Every now and then stumbling on the excitement, Dubois told that the judge - the one that his master did not want to fast-talk, relying on judicial integrity, - rendered extremely unfavorable decision of a Alceste’s lawsuit, and so now both of them, in order to avoid major trouble, should leave the city soon.
Alceste refused to file a complaint and challenge obviously unjust sentence, which, in his view, only once again confirmed that in a society reigned rampant dishonesty, lies and corruption. He would be removed from this society, and the deceitfully taken money he has an indisputable right to scream at all corners about the evil ruling the earth.
Now Alceste had only one thing: to wait for Célimène to report about the imminent change in his life; if she really loves him, she agrees to share it with him, but if not - good riddance.
But the final decision from Célimène not only Alceste was demanding - the same Oronte harassed her. In her heart she had already made a choice. The situation was aggravated even more with Clitandre and Acaste, who also wanted to get some clarification from her. They had in the hands a letter of Célimène to Arsinoe - letter, as before Alceste, Marquises were equipped by a jealous addressee - containing witty and very evil words.
During the aloud reading of the letter followed a noisy scene, after which resentful Acaste, Clitandre, Oronte and Arsinoe hastily bowed. The remaining Alceste drew on Célimène all his eloquence, urging to go with him somewhere in the wilderness, away from the world of vices. But such self-sacrifice was too much for the young creation, spoiled by universal worship - loneliness is too scary in twenty years.
Wishing Philinte and Eliante much happiness and love, Alceste said bye to them, because he now had to go look for the area, where there is nothing to prevent a person to be always entirely honest.