CELIMENE?

It used to be the fashion among critics to condemn Celimene, in Moliere's play " Le Misanthrope," as a heartless coquette, and to exalt Alceste, her blunt, unconventional admirer, as a man of sterling worth. But the present attitude is to see Celimene as a woman of the world who plays the world's game in the world's way, and enjoys so doing. She has learnt the rules, she knows the ropes, and she can hold her own. Life in polite society may be a superficial affair in reality, but a beautiful, elegant, witty, vivacious woman can usually extract from it a lot of enjoyment. Of such a type is Celimene. Her composure is slightly shaken when Alceste, the bluff-mannered misanthropist, falls in love with her and begs her to flee with him to some secluded portion of the wilds, where life is free from the clogging effects of convention. She refuses. Alceste accuses her of having played with him, and flings himself out of her presence in a rage. Alceste, one fears, was something of a fool. Moliere wrote " Le Misanthrope," his greatest comedy, at a time when he and his wife were on very bad terms, and the character of Celimene was intended as a scathing analysis of Mme. Moliere. The production was fraught with considerable interest, since the parts of Alceste and Celimene were actually played by the author and his wife.