The Misanthrope and Other Plays

The Misanthrope and Other Plays Analysis

The comedy "The Misanthrope" was written by Moliere in 1666. From other plays of this French playwright, it differs with its predominance of dialogue over external events, with a special psychological and thinner denouncing social evils. In the center of the comedy stands a character - both funny and tragic: not willing to put up with human shortcomings, Alceste does not notice any of his own weaknesses or defects of his windy beloved Célimène.

The plot of "The Misanthrope" is based mainly on meetings and conversations of the main characters - Alceste, Célimène and Philinte with secondary characters - Oronte, Arsinoé, Eliante, and other. In fact, the whole piece is an attempt of Alceste to get away from the hated higher society and to deal with his pernicious passion for Célimène. In the first act Alceste is trying to be truthful with people and makes an enemy in the face of a bad poet Oronte, in the second he tries to correct the shortcomings of his beloved, in the third - refuses to be represented at the court, in the fourth – he is convinced once more of the infidelity of Célimène and again forgives her, in the fifth - after losing court suit and receiving an abusive letters he is completely disappointed in people and in Célimène.

All events are mostly of domestic character: the main character does not cause anyone to a due, or dresses in others' clothes - he is trying from the beginning to the end to be himself, that allows the viewer to see his spiritual torments. Alceste criticizes almost everything you see in the surrounding society: hypocritical friendship, which is bound within the first available person, endowed with the title or power (typical of all the characters, but above all - for Célimène); flattering praise lavished on the right and left (Philinte praises the bad sonnet of Oronte); gossip, spread behind the backs of others; sensual desire to please (Célimène with her many fans); a desire to make a career at the court (proposal of Arsinoé to promote Alceste); unjust court sentences, bringing not the facts, but according to rumors (Alceste’s lost case); inability to speak the truth in the face and an even greater inability to perceive it (Oronte sued the Alceste for bad opinion of his sonnet).

Alceste himself, seeing other people's shortcomings does not want to notice his own, making himself the object of a good-natured ridicule of his friends and spectators. The main character is uncompromising and passionate. He longs to see people perfect, but refuses to understand the true essence of human nature, which Philinte is trying to convey: as it is impossible to blame the wolf of its bloodlust, and so it is impossible to demand from the person too much. People are what they are, and they need to be taken with all their weaknesses and to be forgiven. Unlike Alceste Philinte holds to the position of non-interference in the correction of human nature, and he himself prefers not to disturb other people's problems: personal peace of mind, he believes is more useful than the constant bitterness inherent to his friend.

Beloved of Alceste Célimène, with all her practicality (the girl is not just keeping around a crowd of fans - from each of them she gets something different: adoration, veneration, assistance in business matters), is not devoid of the love of truth, towards which the main hero tends. Condemning the others behind their backs Célimène meanwhile reveals the main shortcomings of secular people: lack of manners, excessive eloquence, laziness, boastfulness, the pursuit of titles, stupidity, pride, vanity.

Thus the criticism of social shortcomings pervades the comedy at all levels of its development: Alceste is dissatisfied with the upper society, Philinte is trying to adjust to his friend, Célimène uses everything for personal purposes, and laughs at everything that does not match with her understanding of the truth.

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