The Theater: Truth Serum

THE MISANTHROPE by MOLIERE

Sincerity in society is like an iron girder in a house of cards.

—Somerset Maugham

This is the crux of Molière's comedy, but he had the benign sanity, as did Maugham, to suggest that without the white lies everyone tells each day, society would be insupportable. The house of cards would crumple.

Alceste (Alec McCowen) is not a misanthrope in the sense that he hates mankind. He hates the web of social hypocrisy in which men and women entangle themselves. He hates everything that in Eliot's words is "as false as a smile and the shake of a hand." His insistence...

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