Molière understood profoundly what makes us noble, pathetic, outrageous and funny, and in his splendid comedies satirized human folly to perfection. One of the best of his plays — and one of the greatest of all comedies — is The Misanthrope
, first performed in 1666, when the King of France himself had assumed patronage of Molière's company, and the actor/playwright was at the height of his career.
Spotlighting the absurdities of social and literary pretension, The Misanthrope shows us a man who is quick to criticize the hypocrisies, inconsistencies and faults of others, yet remains blind to his own. As "the misanthrope" grows more and more irritable with others, the play becomes more and more entertaining, even as a happy ending for the hero seems less and less likely.
Reprinted from Volume III of The Dramatic Works of Molière, William Paterson, Edinburgh, 1876.
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