Today I have the privileged of hearing from a guest blogger, my oldest son. he wrote the following article for school on Misanthrope. Enjoy
Should the truth be spoken no matter the consequences? Alceste (the main character in the play The Misanthrope by Moliere) thinks strongly so. He goes on to say that, through the truth “My intention is to attack openly and directly the entire human race.” But should this be so? In The Misanthrope Alceste believes that the entire whole of humanity has been corrupted with lies, and so, he takes upon himself to set an example of his thoughts pertaining to truth. In Alceste’s case, he has developed “a dreadful hate of [human kind]… some because they are wicked and mischievous… and others for indulging the wicked and for not hating them…” in this paper I shall discuss the ideas of Alceste, why they are right, and why they are wrong.
I) Alceste’s thoughts on truth.
In the beginning of Alceste’s journey of thought, he finds himself talking to a friend of his, named Philinte. Philinte and Alceste begin a debate regarding the worldly state of truth, as Alceste attacks the worldly state, Philinte defends it. They go on to say – [Philinte:] …would it be sensible—or seemly –to tell thousands of people just what one thinks of them? Dealing with a person one hates or dislikes, should one announce to him how matters really stand? [Alceste:] of course. – Alceste believes that to correct the human state of lies, that one must be absolutely truthful, yet it does not matter to him the state of which the truth is given, or received. In the play, Alceste makes a mess of things with his “truth”. He unintentionally insults a man of high rank, blatantly disrespects Marquises, and loses the love of a woman. Despite all of this he still holds to his belief, and is eventually so abhorred with humanity, that he leaves to find a place untouched by society in which he is to die.
II) The Truth to Alceste’s Truth
Although Alceste’s reasoning is not exactly sound, and is very much over dramatic, there is some visualization of fact in it. The state of mankind has been corrupted with lies and deceit. The manor of our thoughts and actions that disgust Alceste are a result of a sinful nature. Alceste states it as thus – “I’ll see by this trial whether or not men will have enough effrontery, enough wickedness, treachery and perverseness, to do me such an injustice before the whole world.” Alceste does not realize that by becoming angered, and somewhat rude, he is doing the exact thing he hates. It is true to see though that the world is in a corrupt position. Men are sinning and plotting against one another, murder and other capital crimes are committed, death and poverty is abundant. Alceste does see a world that is fallen into ruin, and for that we must be wary of ourselves.
III) The Flaws to Alceste’s Truth
Though Alceste sees the state of humanity, he does not no how to combat it. His plan is to combat lies with truth, but his truth is hurtful to others. Alceste is eventually hated by many people, and is sent to court for some of his “lectures on the truth”. Alceste is unable to fight against lies with truth because he is only fighting sin with a different type of sin. Although lies are never acceptable, neither is rudeness and disrespect. People can not be swayed from sin by sin, only the power of God can do so. Alceste’s lesson is never learned in The Misanthrope, but hopefully a real person would be revealed his logical flaw, and see the truth (pun unintended).
Through this paper we have learned about the sinful state of man, and how not to defeat lies. We have read this debate of the truth, yet it seems to me that I have left some needed truth out of my text, such as, how to combat lies, and where hope for humanity can be found. As for the first of the two, the best words I can use are found in the Bible -- Rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, Eph 4:15 – the truth must be spoke in a kind yet firm way. This will show the best of both Alceste’s and Philinte’s arguments. As for the second point, it is found in the same verse, we are to grow to be like God, the only perfect person, and in him humanity can find hope.