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The Misanthrope by Molière

Book cover for The Misanthrope
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The Misanthrope or Le Misanthrope ou l’Atrabilaire amoureux is a comedy of manners in five acts and in verse. It is one of the best of Molière's plays — and one of the greatest of all comedies — spotlighting the absurdities of social and literary pretension, focusing on a man who is quick to criticize the faults of others, yet remains blind to his own. This play satirizes the hypocrisies of French aristocratic society, but it also engages a more serious tone when pointing out the flaws, which all humans possess. The play differs from other farces at the time by employing dynamic characters like Alceste and Célimène as opposed to the traditionally flat characters used by most satirists to criticize problems in society. It also differs from most of Molière's other works by focusing more on character development and nuances than on plot progression. The play, though not a commercial success in its time, survives as Molière's best-known work today. Much of its universal appeal is due to common undercurrents of misanthropy across cultural borders.

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