Study Guide

The Misanthrope Friendship

By Molière

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As you'd expect from something with this title, The Misanthrope is a kind of manual in how not to do it, if by "it" you mean "friendship." Which we do. Friendship seems to a have a lot of meanings, anything from an exchange of services (Oronte's influence for Alceste's adoration) to a code word for enemy (Célimène and Arsinoé BFF for life!) to stalking them to the ends of the earth and making them behave exactly the way you want them to (Philinte and Alceste). It makes sense that "friendship" is just as fraught as love, because "friendship" is just another way of describing the bonds that keep people together—and "people" is The Misanthrope's main obsession.

Questions About Friendship

  1. Why does everyone talk so much about friendship? Who talks about it the most? When?
  2. Are there any real friends in the play? What does "real" friendship even mean in this context?
  3. This play talks about sincerity a lot. What does friendship have to do with sincerity, if anything?
  4. Which is more sacred to the characters of the play, love or friendship? What distinction do they seem to make between the two emotions?

Chew on This

By the standards of the play, only Philinte and Éliante actually show true friendship.

The Misanthrope suggests that friendship is a relationship of exchange.

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