The Misanthrope By Molière Study Help Essay Questions

1. Contrast the very first scene in the play with the final scene. Which characters are involved? Have they changed at all in the course of the action? Why does Molière "contain" the play in this kind of structure?

2. Think of man as a creature who exists in "society," and comment on the "rightness" and "wrongness" of Alceste's ideas and behavior.

3. To what effect do the two "love affairs" — Alceste and Célimène, and Philinte and Eliante — parallel each other? Think in terms of "rational" and "irrational" behavior.

4. In what particular ways do Alceste's beliefs hinder him in his efforts to woo Célimène?

5. What are the attitudes toward the man-woman relationship expressed in the play?

6. How does the type of language used by Alceste, and his obvious method of delivering his lines, express his character? Contrast Alceste's speech with Philinte's in the scenes they share.

7. What is Molière's attitude toward Célimène? Look closely at the way she comports herself in Act II.

8. In what particular ways does the society in which Alceste lives soften our ridicule of him? Consider Oronte, Clitandre, and the other minor characters.

9. What kinds of devices does Molière utilize to move the plot of the play along? Is "plot" particularly important in this play?

10. What possible norm of behavior would Molière advocate?

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