"The Misanthrope", like most of Moliere's plays, has few
women characters. There are three female individuals; one
who plays a major role, and two who are considered as foil
characters. Arsinoe, one of the foil characters, expresses
Moliere's opinion that women are gossipers. The other
female character is Eliante who foils out Alceste's
passionate nature. Although foil characters are usually
overlooked, this essay will focus on their roles,
portraying their typical personalities obtained by the
"I visited, last night, some virtuous folk, and, quite by
chance, of you they spoke . . . the quantity of gentleman
you see and your by now notorious coquetry . . . I came to
your defense as best as I could, . . assured them you were
harmless, . . ."
From this comment, the reader learns that Arsinoe told
Celimene about the gossip she had with her friends and that
Arsinoe doesn't really care about her. She is simply
putting her down. "[Celimene] whom you love, and pretends
to love you, is, I regret to say, unworthy for you." By
saying this to Alceste, Arsinoe clearly shows that gossip
can betray a friendship. However, Celimene uses the gossip
technique as well.
Celimene, in revenge, tells Arsinoe that a "conversation
soon came around to [Arsinoe]. Your prudery and bustling
zeal appeared to have a very slight appeal . . . one should
learn the art of living well before one threatens men with
Moliere demonstrates through the use of gossip that women
will betray and back stab anyone, even their friends. The
implication Moliere expresse in this scene and other parts
of the play is that women can't be trusted. The outcome of
this is trust is gossip and lying; just like Celimene told
all her suitors and be lovers that she only loved them.
Alceste tells Eliante that his lover betrayed him and asked
that "the faithful worship of mine will offer up to yours
as to shrine." Eliante answers him that "You may have my
sympathy in all you suffer." Here we see that Alceste is
asking Eliante to sleep with him only because he was newly
rejected. Eliante replies agreeingly.
Alceste, having rejected Celimene, is in a state of
awareness. He says to Eliante:"permit me ever to esteem you
so, and if I do not request your hand . . . I sense that
fate does not intend me for the married state."
At first, Alceste wants to sleep with Eliante to get picked
up off the rebound from being rejected by Celimene. This
rejection gives Alceste emotional insecurity. Therefore, he
doesn't marry Eliante either.
Both Alceste and Celimene don't seem as if they are the
typical male or female, but Eliante and Arsinoe express
their characteristics they obtain, showing regularity.
Alceste doesn't care about other peoples' feelings. He
enjoys criticizing, but toward the end of "The
Misanthrope", Eliante foils out his ability to sympathize.
As for Celimene always surrounded by suitors, atypical from
other women, shows how she is a typical lady, by means of
gossip, instigated by Arsinoe. No matter how different
people may seem, there are always characteristics shared
among many people.
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