Monday, August 22, 2016

Necessity of Hypocrisy


“I expect you to be sincere and as an honourable man never to utter a single word that you don't really mean.”  Alceste, the protagonist of Moliere’s comedy, The Misanthrope, utters these words in the opening scene of the play.  Alceste wanted a world of genuine people.  His desire was not as demanding as that of Jesus or the Buddha.  Yet Alceste became a comic character in the society while Jesus and the Buddha became gods.

Source
Alceste lived in the 17th century when the world was more complex than when Jesus demanded childlike innocence as the price of the ticket to heaven.  The Buddha had found it even more impossible to accept life’s absurdity than Jesus, let alone Alceste.  The Buddha sought deliverance in the nonexistence of nirvana while Jesus nailed his body’s abominable passions to the cross and thus delivered his soul from those passions.

Moliere’s Alceste is more human than these gods.  He eventually accepted the limitations of human nature.  None of us is wise, he says towards the end of the play.  “There’s some touch of human frailty in every one of us,” he realises.  And “every one” includes himself.

Alceste became a comic character while Jesus and the Buddha became gods.  Alceste could not have nailed himself to a cross.  Nor could he go through the living hell that the Buddha had embraced.  So Alceste learnt to accept the importance of compromise and condescended to become like the other human beings.  But he really could not become what he could accept intellectually.  He remains at a distance from the society at the end of the play.  Moliere ends the play leaving the hope to the audience that Alceste would eventually learn the fundamental lesson of life –  that hypocrisy is an integral part of human life unless you want to nail your body to a cross or live your life in a self-created hell. 

Let the preachers preach.  Don’t take them seriously.  You live your life.  As you wish so long as you know how to keep certain things secret from the society.  That’s what the preachers do.  That’s what Alceste will eventually learn and cease to be a comic character.



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10 comments:

  1. Better die being genuine or live being hypocrite or die being hypocrite or live being genuine? Randomness makes everything equal. Ask any random guy on a random street at a random time :)

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    1. Having known certain people including a godman personally, I have understood the importance of hypocrisy. There's no life without it.

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  2. Wow ! What's a revelation Sir. Very true, very true indeed ! Yes, most of the preachers themselves are hypocrites as they don't practice what they preach.

    Jitendra Mathur

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    1. Moliere thinks every one of us may have to learn that strategy of compromising

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  3. So beautifully you penned down! So hypocrisy it is, not sure if I could make it through but learning it to survive in the society !

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    1. If you don't learn it willingly, the world will teach you forcibly ☺

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  4. Wow !

    I am in love with these lines - hypocrisy is an integral part of human life unless you want to nail your body to a cross or live your life in a self-created hell.

    Like Alceste I think we should not become comic characters:)
    Came here after long, enjoyed the post thoroughly

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    1. Glad you are here and that you liked the post.

      One has to do what the society does or at least pretend to do it to avoid being comical or tragic.

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  5. Preachers often trap people who are distanced from the society. They are not able to live their lives. Can this be avoided? Why do people think that they can make a difference by teaching shit in the name of religion?

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