Course Hero. "The Misanthrope Study Guide." Course Hero. 25 Oct. 2017. Web. 7 June 2023. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Misanthrope/>.
Course Hero. (2017, October 25). The Misanthrope Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 7, 2023, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Misanthrope/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "The Misanthrope Study Guide." October 25, 2017. Accessed June 7, 2023. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Misanthrope/.
Course Hero, "The Misanthrope Study Guide," October 25, 2017, accessed June 7, 2023, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Misanthrope/.
Basque plays his familiar role of announcing a new visitor. Arsinoé has arrived to see Célimène. Even before Acaste can react to the news, Célimène unleashes a lengthy, damning portrait of the new arrival in a speech fully twice as long as any of the satirical sketches she delivered in Act 2, Scene 5. Arsinoé, she declares, is a fraud. Her ostensible piety and virtue are merely masks for romantic failures and jealousy. Arsinoé is particularly hostile toward Célimène, whom she regards as a rival for the affections of Alceste. She, the older woman whose day has likely passed, is spiteful and envious, vicious and arrogant.
Because Arsinoé is the leading character in Act 3 of the play, Célimène's scathing portrayal of her in this scene is especially noteworthy. Célimène's description implies that Arsinoé is, at least in part, a curious mirror image of Alceste—with the crucial difference that Arsinoé's pretense to virtue is hypocritical. For example, Célimène emphasizes that Arsinoé is "always in a jealous rage / Against the faulty standards of the age." The truth, according to Célimène, is that Arsinoé fumes simply because she cannot attract and retain a lover. Ironically, the lover she would most prefer is none other than Alceste—a preference which, of course, puts Arsinoé in direct conflict with Célimène!