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Alceste confronts Célimène about what he believes to be her poor behavior. He criticizes her for entertaining the advances of multiple suitors and insists that she demonstrate more discretion, specifically questioning her affection for one specific suitor, Clitandre. Célimène assures Alceste that he need not worry, stating that she has true affection for him. Célimène does mention, however, that Clitandre might be able to help her with a lawsuit in which she is involved.
Alceste largely rejects Célimène's arguments, however, and he suggests that she might be expressing her love to other suitors as well. Offended, Célimène vows to "unsay all that I have said in the past." Subsequently, Alceste censures himself for being so jealous and hopelessly in love.
Alceste reacts angrily when Célimène agrees to accept a visit from Acaste. Célimène contends that she must stay in good favor with Acaste because he carries considerable clout in "Court circles."
Célimène's servant, Basque, announces the arrival of Clitandre. The disgruntled Alceste insists that he is leaving. Célimène asks him to stay, but he stubbornly refuses.
Célimène's cousin Éliante arrives with Philinte, Acaste, and Clitandre. Still present, Alceste demands that Célimène "explain" herself to all present. She ignores him. The suitors listen intently as Célimène gossips, quite negatively, about several people of the Court. Alceste argues to Célimène and the others that, while they are quick to point out the faults of others, they will likely be just as quick to ingratiate themselves with those same people they criticize. Célimène maintains that Alceste is arguing for argument's sake and dismisses his negativity as unfounded.
Opposing Alceste, the other suitors praise Célimène, calling her "perfect," "charming and gracious." Alceste argues that, in being critical of Célimène, he is demonstrating a true, honest love for her. Éliante mentions that love does not usually take this form, describing man's typical inclination to find merit in the faults of a lover.
Presently does not mean currently. It means soon.
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