The Misanthrope | Study Guide

Molière

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The Misanthrope | Act 5, Scene 8 | Summary

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Summary

Alceste ruefully admits to Éliante that his destiny probably does not include marriage. Éliante breaks in to assure him that his argument is well taken. She suspects, however, that Philinte will not decline her hand. Philinte enthusiastically concurs. Alceste wishes them well and repeats that he will seek out some desolate spot where he will be "free to have an honest heart." Philinte urges Éliante to join with him in changing the mind of the misanthrope.

Analysis

Like most traditional comedies, the play ends with a wedding or union—in this case, the joining of two secondary characters. The extreme Alceste has achieved at least a small degree of self-knowledge—namely, that he is not fated to marry. Other issues about his fate, however, are not so clear at the end of the play. In Alceste and Philinte, for example, Molière has dramatized both the extreme rejection of vice and the philosophical acceptance of it, without taking a definitive position. In Célimène, he has portrayed social agility but also insincerity and hypocrisy, as well as a certain amount of manipulation. By the end of the play, none of these issues are resolved.

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