The Misanthrope | Study Guide

Molière

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Course Hero, "The Misanthrope Study Guide," October 25, 2017, accessed June 4, 2020, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Misanthrope/.

The Misanthrope | Act 5, Scene 6 | Summary

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Summary

Arsinoé now rejoins the fray, reproaching Célimène for her lack of propriety and especially for her unappreciative treatment of the worthy Alceste. With a frosty veneer of courtesy, however, Alceste intervenes, requesting that Arsinoé not act as his advocate. In any case, he adds, he would not choose Arsinoé as a romantic partner. Furious, Arsinoé lashes back, snidely calling Alceste one of Célimène's "discarded gigolos." In a final insult, Arsinoé declares, "Stay with this creature, to whom you're so attached; / I've never seen two people better matched."

Analysis

Superficially, Arsinoé's condemnation might seem to be another setback for Célimène. Arsinoé's blunder, however, is to drag Alceste into the dispute. His blunt dismissal enrages her, and she makes a furious exit. One may ponder Arsinoé's concluding jab that she's "never seen two people better matched" (in French, she refers to "une union si belle"). Is there any truth lurking under these sarcastic words? Might Alceste and Célimène ever make a good match with each other, on the grounds that they are both idealists or that they are both cynics?

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