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Like Philinte, Éliante is well adjusted. She generally avoids gossip—in contrast to her cousin, Célimène—and she seems content not to be the center of attention. Éliante distinguishes herself from Philinte with her wit and her shrewd observance of human behavior. Where Philinte might abstain from comment, Éliante jumps in with a well thought out opinion. She delivers an intelligent critique of the way men behave when in love, and she offers a balanced analysis of Alceste's behavior. Éliante also stands up to her cousin when Célimène requests that Éliante choose a lover for her. Éliante refuses, forcing Célimène to get herself out of her own mess.
Éliante's only noticeable weakness lies her ambivalence towards Alceste. She appears to feel some sort of obligation to Alceste, even agreeing to become his lover so that he might avenge Célimène's deception. Ultimately, though, Éliante decides that her heart lies with Philinte. Indeed, Éliante and Philinte are the perfect match in many ways. Just as Philinte is the only completely respectable man in the play, Éliante is the only woman not guilty of obvious hypocrisy and deceit. With their moderate behavior and true—or so we are led to believe—devotion to one another, Éliante and Philinte represent a moral and social stability lost to the rest of the Court. In the pairing of Éliante and Philinte, Molière offers a new spin on the traditional happy ending. Although the ostensible "hero"—Alceste—cannot find happiness, the real heroes do. They remain selfless to the end, following Alceste off to keep him from leaving.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Misanthrope!