The Misanthrope Theme of Hypocrisy
Welcome to the world of hypocrisy. The moral people are hypocrites, the immoral people are hypocrites, everyone is a hypocrite. Maybe even you! In fact, you're almost definitely a hypocrite! The Misanthrope doesn't give you a choice between being a hypocrite and not being one; instead, it just lets you decide what kind of hypocrite you're going to be, since, evidently, some hypocrisy is more socially acceptable than others. Figuring out that boundary seems to be one of The Misanthrope's major goals.
Questions About Hypocrisy
- What is hypocrisy? Is there more than one type of hypocrisy in the play? Is one worse than another?
- Is anyone in the play not a hypocrite? If so, who? Who is the biggest hypocrite? Why?
- Philinte argues that hypocrisy is natural in humans. Does the play seem to agree with him? Why or why not?
Chew on This
According to Molière, some hypocrisy (like Philinte's) is necessary; others (like Arsinoé's) is not.
The Misanthrope suggests that hypocrisy is a necessary evil. Attempting to live without hypocrisy, as Alceste does, is foolish and immature.