The Misanthrope | Study Guide


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The Misanthrope | Act 2, Scene 7 | Summary



The new arrival is a guard attached to the "Marshalsea," a judicial body associated with the court of Louis XIV. The guard requests Alceste to report to the marshals without delay. Philinte interposes, explaining to Célimène that the roots of the altercation lie in the "silly quarrel" with Oronte concerning the latter's sonnet, which Alceste severely criticized in Act 1, Scene 2. When Philinte advises him to be more polite, Alceste angrily proclaims he will never retract or recant—unless he receives a direct order from the King. As Clitandre and Acaste chuckle at his discomfort, Alceste storms out, telling Célimène that he will return soon enough in order to "settle" matters with her.


This scene fulfills the note of foreshadowing struck by Célimène toward the end of Act 2, Scene 3, when she told Alceste that "the chartered gossips of the court" can cause substantial harm. Philinte plays a substantial part in this scene; his prominence here perhaps reminds the audience that he was present during the increasingly rancorous confrontation between Alceste and Oronte in Act 1, Scene 2.

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