The Misanthrope | Study Guide


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The Misanthrope | Act 4, Scene 4 | Summary



Alceste's valet, Monsieur Dubois, enters to convey to his master a cryptic, garbled message. The gist is that Alceste must immediately depart from Paris. Dubois is unable to explain exactly why, and when he is pressed to identify various callers, he cannot do so. The emergency may, in some mysterious fashion, be related to Alceste's lawsuit. With suspense (as well as Alceste's frustration) mounting, the act comes to a close.


This brief scene contrasts with the highly emotional confrontation between Alceste and Célimène in Scene 3. The comic and bumbling ineffectualness of Dubois may owe a debt to the stock characters and farcical action of the commedia dell'arte, the Italian style of comedy that was popular in Paris during Molière's day and had a considerable influence on many of his plays.

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