Alceste’s love for flighty, flirtatious Célimène is at odds with his lofty ideals and his hatred of the hypocrisy that haunts the human race. In Molière’s masterpiece, Célimène’s unfaithfulness is cruelly exposed, and Alceste withdraws to a loveless life of myopic misanthropy. Paddy Gormley’s mistranslation follows Molière’s action scene for scene and speech for speech, but with one important difference: Alceste’s friend Philinte is not content with the role that Molière intends for him, which is to illuminate Alceste’s misanthropy for us. Gormley’s Philinte is intent on changing Alceste’s behaviour for the better. Alceste defends his position forcefully, using lavish language, thick with assonance and alliteration. Philinte, realising that the war cannot be won with words alone, must resort to skulduggery that is tantamount to thuggery.
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