William1's Reviews > The Misanthrope/ Tartuffe
The Misanthrope/ Tartuffe
Read The Misanthrope and was surprised by how it held me. Generally, I find plays very dead on the page. Not this one. Moliere's keen wit and sharp characterizations comes through beautifully. He has this very light touch. And here's the funny thing--the play's in verse! Rhyming couplets for the most part. Here's part of what translator Wilbur says about it: "In this play, society itself is indicted, and though Alceste's criticisms are indiscriminate, they are not unjustified...." Let me add that Alceste thinks of himself as the only moral visionary about. Everyone else is ruined by the various social fraudulences of the day (1666). There are others who see through this faux civility, too, of course, but Alceste is the one whose pride spurs him on to ever greater truth telling. If the play weren't so funny, and Wilbur's verse so sharp, Alceste would be a very great bore indeed. Tartuffe I liked too. It's about this con man who, playing the role of the pious Christian, wheedles his way into the heart of a prosperous Paris householder. That man, Orgon, is so taken in by the fraud Tartuffe that he allows it to disrupt his very large household. But then he's caught trying to seduce the lady of the house. That moment of exposure provides enormous pleasure. Though the meter tends to slow the reader down a bit, both plays read very fast, about an hour each.
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