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The Misanthrope | Study Guide


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The Misanthrope | Scene Summaries

See Scene Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • In the mid-17th century

    Alceste and Philinte discuss the nature of sincerity and social harmony.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • Later that day

    Oronte reads his sonnet to Alceste, who mocks and criticizes it.

    Act 1, Scene 2
  • Later that day

    Alceste reproaches Célimène, his beloved, for her coquetry.

    Act 2, Scene 1
  • Later that day

    Célimène uses her sharp wit and keen eye to satirize the courtiers.

    Act 2, Scene 5
  • Later that day

    Arsinoé attempts to win Alceste's favor and undermine Célimène.

    Act 3, Scene 7
  • Later that day

    Célimène's letters are read, revealing her feelings about her suitors.

    Act 5, Scene 4
  • Immediately after

    Oronte angrily abandons his pursuit of Célimène.

    Act 5, Scene 5
  • Immediately after

    Célimène refuses Alceste's request that she join him in exile, and he rejects her.

    Act 5, Scene 7
  • Later that day

    Philinte and Éliante proclaim their union.

    Act 5, Scene 8

Scene Summaries Chart

Scene Summary
Act 1, Scene 1 In the play's opening scene, Alceste and Philinte discuss friendship and sincerity. Alceste is uncompromising in his ins... Read More
Act 1, Scene 2 The play's first scene flows directly into the second with the entrance of the courtier Oronte. Addressing Alceste, he p... Read More
Act 1, Scene 3 Philinte opens this brief scene with a mild reproach to Alceste about the perils of "sincerity in excess." True to type,... Read More
Act 2, Scene 1 Frank and blunt as ever, Alceste reproaches Célimène for her fickle behavior, predicting that their relationship will en... Read More
Act 2, Scene 2 Célimène's servant Basque announces the arrival of Acaste, a young nobleman from the court. Célimène directs Basque to s... Read More
Act 2, Scene 3 Predictably, Alceste reproves Célimène for her all-too-willing consent to admit the courtier Acaste. Célimène replies th... Read More
Act 2, Scene 4 The valet Basque reappears, this time to announce the arrival of Clitandre, another young nobleman from the court. Alces... Read More
Act 2, Scene 5 While chairs are provided for the visiting noblemen, Alceste grimly warns he will not withdraw, as he had threatened in ... Read More
Act 2, Scene 6 In this brief scene, Basque makes his third appearance in the act, announcing that a gentleman in an official uniform ha... Read More
Act 2, Scene 7 The new arrival is a guard attached to the "Marshalsea," a judicial body associated with the court of Louis XIV. The gua... Read More
Act 3, Scene 1 Two noble courtiers, Acaste and Clitandre, discuss their own satisfaction with their lot in life. Acaste pronounces hims... Read More
Act 3, Scene 2 This scene flows directly from Scene 1, with the now familiar run-in technique. Célimène enters to inform Acaste and Cli... Read More
Act 3, Scene 3 Basque plays his familiar role of announcing a new visitor. Arsinoé has arrived to see Célimène. Even before Acaste can ... Read More
Act 3, Scene 4 Once again Molière employs the run-in technique for a brief transitional scene that features the arrival of Arsinoé. She... Read More
Act 3, Scene 5 Like several other scenes in the play, this one begins with an avowal of friendship. Friendship's "flame," declares Arsi... Read More
Act 3, Scene 6 Alceste enters. Célimène tells him that she must send a piece of correspondence before evening, so she will be grateful ... Read More
Act 3, Scene 7 Arsinoé is evidently delighted by the turn that events have taken. She loses no time in pouring out her admiration for A... Read More
Act 4, Scene 1 In a dialogue with Célimène's cousin Éliante, Philinte recounts what happened at Alceste's appearance before the marshal... Read More
Act 4, Scene 2 Alceste bursts in on the scene, exploding with rage and thirsting for vengeance. After several appeals from Éliante for ... Read More
Act 4, Scene 3 In the showdown between Alceste and Célimène, Alceste begins melodramatically by invoking heaven (Ô Ciel!) in an aside. ... Read More
Act 4, Scene 4 Alceste's valet, Monsieur Dubois, enters to convey to his master a cryptic, garbled message. The gist is that Alceste mu... Read More
Act 5, Scene 1 Alceste tells Philinte that Alceste has lost his lawsuit. He is now so outraged, he has decided to withdraw from mankind... Read More
Act 5, Scene 2 Oronte demands that Célimène terminate her relationship with Alceste. When Célimène demurs, Alceste emerges from the cor... Read More
Act 5, Scene 3 Célimène briefly describes her predicament to Éliante and asks her cousin's advice. Éliante replies that her advice will... Read More
Act 5, Scene 4 Acaste, Clitandre, and Arsinoé now join the characters from the previous scene (Célimène, Alceste, Oronte, Philinte, and... Read More
Act 5, Scene 5 Furious and resentful, Oronte denounces Célimène for her betrayal. As he departs, he tells Alceste that he (Oronte) will... Read More
Act 5, Scene 6 Arsinoé now rejoins the fray, reproaching Célimène for her lack of propriety and especially for her unappreciative treat... Read More
Act 5, Scene 7 Alceste now asks Célimène if he can finally be allowed to have his say. Apparently contrite, she admits that she has wro... Read More
Act 5, Scene 8 Alceste ruefully admits to Éliante that his destiny probably does not include marriage. Éliante breaks in to assure him ... Read More
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