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The Misanthrope Theme of Power

Most of the people in The Misanthrope are either struggling to get power or exchange the power they have for something else. Alceste, on the other hand, is not even playing the game. That's a noble choice, but we all know it doesn't work out too well for him. Look, we get why everyone else wants power. Power wins lawsuits, it gets you friends, it gives you love. Who needs to deal with things as crass as money when you have power? Power is the best! But don't cheese off people who have the power, because it doesn't feel too good from the other side.

Questions About Power

  1. Where does power come from in the play? Why is it such a big deal?
  2. Who has power in the play? Who doesn't? What do they use it for? How did they get it?
  3. If the play were set in modern times, what might having power look like for these characters?
  4. How is power related to questions of love and friendship? Is love just another way of having power over someone?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

More than money, love, or friendship, everyone in The Misanthrope wants power.

Molière suggests that power comes through playing by society's rules. Alceste ends up powerless because he refuses to play the game.

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