Moliere’s The Misanthrope

This is, by no measure, a foolish book. It is, as the title so blatantly confesses, a misanthropic read. It’s sincere and grim. And it gets better as the story deepens and reveals its philosophy organically. Even better was its effect after having read Cioran’s The Trouble With Being Born. If there’s one constant in my philosophical endeavors, it’s this yearning for what exists independent of human emotion and thought. Consequently, it is what governs our lives so emphatically.

The Misanthrope is Moliere’s play. It focuses on many key aspects of what possesses human consciousness and habituates the subsconscious. Since it’s all dialogue, the characters and their revealing and burgeoning discomfiture with society feel palpable, which is ironic. Their hate, frustration, hypocrisy, and outcries are general, not fictionalized. You can reach out and stroke their angst and nausea as if they inhabit physical dimensions.

This play should be read as a serious universal comedy; where humanity is mocked and criticized for its coquettish and greedy mannerisms. Seneca wrote that “a man is unhappy as he has convinced himself he is.” Moliere wants this to echo throughout his play. That mankind and his genius, which is not a matter of courage but ideals, can never be reasonable. For in a world of fools, it’s better to be nothing than what the world thinks of as wise.

So the defect is not in human flaws, which society often condemns, and paradoxically implants in our psyche. But it’s in the appeal of the absurd cultural and social conventions of society. The subconscious of the world that makes the world function on self-interest, meaningless embraces, and empty words.