Study Guide

The Life of Timon of Athens Dissatisfaction and Misanthropy

By William Shakespeare

Dissatisfaction and Misanthropy

Remember when Apemantus came to Timon's banquet and took every opportunity to point out how much he hates everyone? What's that guy's problem?

Well, he's not alone: by the end of Timon of Athens, Timon has become a misanthrope—someone who hates humanity—as well. Sure, he's been played. He totally has the right to get angry at the Senators and the noblemen who've used him for his wealth. But Timon takes it a step further: he just all-out, 100% hates everyone.

But why? If Timon stopped screaming and crying for a few seconds, he'd see that there are some perfectly decent people right in front of him. Why does he insist on going to extremes? He pretty much kills himself off to get back at the world. Why doesn't he do anything constructive about his situation?

Questions About Dissatisfaction and Misanthropy

  1. Why does Timon take his anger at his friends out on the world? Is it fair that he hates all people everywhere after what happened to him? Will he ever be satisfied again?
  2. What's the deal with Apemantus's anger? Is he justified in hating on everyone? How do his personal experiences differ from Timon's?
  3. How much can the play be understood as a study of misanthropy or dissatisfaction? What lesson does it teach about hating humanity?

Chew on This

Apemantus is more justified than Timon in his hatred for all mankind since he has never been loved by anyone but himself, ever.

Timon has the right to be spiteful to everyone; he was flattered and used for his money.