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The Misanthrope | Study Guide


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The Misanthrope | Characters

Character Description
Alceste Alceste is the play's protagonist. He has a passion for sincerity and regards all concessions to the norms of polite society as hypocritical. Molière himself is recorded to have acted the role of Alceste when the play was first produced in 1666. Read More
Philinte Philinte is portrayed as a foil, or contrasting character, to Alceste. Sensible and philosophical, Philinte believes in "forgetting the follies of the times" for the sake of peace of mind and social harmony. At the end of the play, Philinte will be married to Éliante, a suitable union because Éliante's approach to society closely matches his own. Read More
Oronte Oronte is a pretentious, social-climbing courtier. He epitomizes the hypocrisy and malice of the court that Alceste so hotly detests. Oronte's pompous presentation of a poorly written sonnet in Act 1, Scene 2 for Alceste's critique is the first concrete example of the hypocrisy and vanity that Alceste detests in human society. Read More
Célimène Célimène, 20 years old, is a socially prominent widow with whom Alceste is in love. Several other noble suitors pay court to her during the play, including Oronte, Acaste, and Clitandre. Célimène expertly juggles these competing noblemen, allowing none of them to establish a definitive claim. Her manipulation of her suitors greatly annoys Alceste. Read More
Arsinoé Arsinoé is an aging, prudish aristocrat who is attracted to Alceste. She is portrayed as a rival and critic of Célimène. Outwardly polite but repellently hypocritical, Arsinoé is ill-suited for Alceste, as he bluntly reminds her on several occasions. Célimène easily sums up Arsinoé's character in the speech "It's all an act" in Act 3, Scene 3. Read More
Acaste Acaste is a noble courtier (a marquis) who competes for the favor of Célimène. He is portrayed as very smug and complacent.
Basque Basque is the valet, or servant, of Célimène.
Clitandre Clitandre is another marquis who is in love with Célimène.
Dubois Dubois is Alceste's valet.
Éliante Éliante is the cousin of Célimène. She is portrayed as sensible and sincere. In the end, she marries Philinte as a sort of compensation.
Guard The guard serves the Marshals, who are court officials.
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