Study Guide

Arsinoé in The Misanthrope

Advertisement - Guide continues below


The Prude

Arsinoé gives a bad name to all those upstanding ladies out there. Philinte calls her a prude, but there is not really anything prudish about her if all the gossip is true. She's just frontin'. According to Célimène, Arsinoé "lets the world believe that she's a prude/ To justify her loveless solitude,/ And strives to put a brand of moral shame/ On all the graces that she cannot claim" (3.3.14).

In other words, she can't get any action, so she lets everyone think she doesn't want any. It's pretty clear that she does, because when she talks to Alceste she does everything but jump on him to let him know that she's interested. Then, when he rejects her, she says, "Women like me are not for such as you./ Stay with this creature, to whom you're so attached;/ I've never seen two people better matched" (5.6.22).

Right. Sure. We believe you Arsinoé.

One of the funny things about Arsinoé is that she's a pretty good example of how Molière works with formulaic characters and lets them run amok on the page. (She also shows that formulaic characters have been around since practically forever.)

If Célimène is your classic hot girl, Arsinoé that girl with the nasty personality who's never been kissed but claims that she think boys are gross. And compared with Éliante, Arsinoé shows how morals can go wrong if paired with hypocrisy. Basically, ladies? Don't be a hussy, but you'd still better make sure that guys like you.

Yeah, no one ever said life was fair. Especially not for women.

With Friends Like Her

Are we right, or what? Arsinoé is a terrible friend. Well, it's not like anyone really believes that she's Célimène's friend. But she keeps saying that she is, almost like she believes it.

The important thing here is that Célimène and Arsinoé's relationship parodies Alceste and Philinte's true friendship. All Arsinoé wants for Célimène is to ruin her life and steal her man. She doesn't get to steal her man, but she does get to see Célimène's social life go down in flames. Lucky her.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...