Moliere’s The Misanthrope

Question

After reading Moliere’s The Misanthrope, how would you compare Comedies of Manners to contemporary comedy?  Consider the social customs and values of the period in which this play was written and contrast them to our contemporary society.  Would this type of play translate well to a contemporary film?

Answer

Moliere’s The Misanthrope is a stage act play that satirizes the customs, attitudes, and activities of the fashionable upper classes, hence classified as a Comedy of Manners. As a Comedy of Manners, the play presents the society’s social norms of its day in such a way that it establishes hypocrisy in society as well as how civilization and culture conceals a more negative society. This is especially true in the ways Alceste reveals hypocrisy. Alceste is different from other characters who are depicted as blandishments and gossipers. For example, Celimene behaves as if she enjoys the men who court her but in a letter she shows that that is not the case.  The above Moliere’s The Misanthrope has some major differences with Contemporary comedy. Unlike Comedy of manners, contemporary comedy never shies away from pushing boundaries. Nowadays, contemporary comedy is bolder and even more controversial than ever before with more plenty of insightful or subversive work out there for the audience. In The Misanthrope, the protagonist Alceste’s wholesale rejection of his culture’s polite social conventions makes him very unpopular and brings about the conflict in the play. In contemporary comedy, women like Celimene could never pretend to enjoy the courtship from men she does not want socialize with. Unlike during the period in the Comedy of Manners, contemporary comedy is filled with social and political satire that are entwined with slapstick and society taboos.  The play translate can still translate well in our contemporary society as some several passages from the play are still relevant and famous in their own rights.