We're not sure what justice is in The Misanthrope. Everyone seems to have these lawsuits about things as stupid as stealing someone else's pencil. In the biggest justice issue in the play (Alceste vs. Other Dude) either side could be in the right because we literally have no idea what it's about. Was justice served? No clue. We like our justice hot, cold, on the side, dusted with Parmesan—basically, anyway we can get it—but we're not so sure there is any at all in this play.
Questions About Justice and Judgment
- What is justice in the play? What is injustice? What does justice have to do with lawsuits and the courts, if anything?
- Does Alceste's society truly seem unjust? What about it appears just or unjust?
- Why might Molière have included these silly lawsuits in the play? What role do they fill?
Chew on This
In The Misanthrope, justice is an empty concept because it is a social construct.
Molière suggests that justice naturally emerges in human relations. It can't be forced through lawsuits and legal systems.