Study Guide

The Misanthrope Act 2

By Molière

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Act 2

Scene 1

  • So we finally meet Alceste's main squeeze, Célimène. And they're arguing. He wants her to give up all of her friends and just be friends with him.
  • This sounds silly to her and like an abusive relationship to us. Get out while you can, Célimène!
  • Luckily for everyone, Célimène just keeps doing what she's doing, which is apparently hanging out and flirting with anyone she wants.
  • Alceste is extra jealous of some guy called Clitandre, but Célimène only wants him around because she needs someone on her side at her lawsuit. (What is up with these random lawsuits?) Alceste tells her to be like him and lose her lawsuit.
  • Good advice. Not.
  • So, like a big dummy, Alceste wants proof that Célimène really loves him. Célimène tells him the proof is that she said she did.
  • Alceste wants to know how he can be sure that she didn't tell other guys that, and she starts going on about how he doesn't trust her enough.
  • This fascinating lover's quarrel continues until …

Scene 2

  • Célimène's servant Basque tells her that one of her man-friends (Acaste) is downstairs.
  • Yep, another one of those short acts. Moving along.

Scene 3

  • Alceste whines and asks Célimène if they will never get to be alone. (Hint: We think not.)
  • Célimène is like, tough cookies, because I'm not going to be mean and refuse to see him. Plus he might gossip about me!
  • Alceste is not buying Célimène's game

Scene 4

  • Basque pops in again to say that Friend #2, Clitandre, is downstairs.
  • Alceste has had about enough of this and heads for the door. Célimène asks him to stay, but he refuses. Repeatedly. Like a big, whiny baby, which is basically what he is.

Scene 5

  • Alceste is also a pushover, because he's still in Célimène house even though he made such a fuss about leaving.
  • He's still going on about this "leave your friends for me" thing, and Célimène tells him to hush because the grown-ups are talking.
  • She, Clitandre, and Acaste all sit around in her house and gossip Mean Girls-style about all of their friends.
  • They are seriously the worst friends. It's lucky that burn books hadn't been invented yet, because there would be some serious burning going on.
  • The only person who isn't gossiping is Éliante, who is chilling quietly in a corner.
  • When they're all done, Alceste starts on his usual thing about how they're all superficial meanies, but Célimène's friends say that he should be talking to her, not them, since she was the main culprit.
  • Alceste has an excuse for her, though. He says that they put her up to it. Sure. That's logical.
  • Then, with the spotlight on Alceste, everyone starts picking apart his flaws, pointing out his hypocrisy.
  • They move from that fun subject to love, and how Alceste's idea of love is the oddest kind of love that they have ever heard of.
  • Apparently Célimène has had enough of all this talk and cuts off Alceste's reply to say that she is going on a walk. Everyone else, for whatever reason, decides not to go on the walk and just stay in her house.

Scene 6

  • Basque tells Alceste there's a guy in a uniform downstairs asking to see him.
  • Sounds like bad news, dude.
  • Alceste is understandably not interested in checking out the sitch, but Célimène tells him he should go investigate.

Scene 7

  • The guard tells Alceste that they're taking him downtown. Or, you know, to the courthouse.
  • The crime? Not liking Oronte's poem.
  • Well, it was really the insulting way he said it, but, seriously? Literary cops? Do they still get Tasers, or just really sharp red pens?
  • Alceste doesn't care what they do to him; he's not apologizing. He has principles!

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