Le Misanthrope
Le Misanthrope Act 2 sc. 1


   Alceste:  Madame,
                  will you permit me to be frank?
                  I am not pleased by the way you behave:
                  it’s making me
                  more and more angry.
                  It’s obvious we’ve got to part.
                  I wouldn’t be telling you the truth
                  if I told you otherwise.
                  Sooner or later we’ll part,
                  that, I’m quite certain of,
                  and I don’t care how many times
                  I might tell you the opposite,
                  it will happen, just the same.
Célimène:  Did you insist on bringing me home
                  just so you would have a chance
                  to see me alone and tell me off?
   Alceste:  I’m not telling you off.
                  It’s just that you’re much too easy to please,
                  everyone you ever meet
                  gets treated like a long-lost brother.
                  Too many men admire you, you seem to welcome it,
                  it bothers me, it’s hard to bear.
Célimène:  Are you blaming me for being attractive?
                  Can I help it if people like me?
                  And when they call and want to see me,
                  should I get a big stick and chase them away?
   Alceste:  Madame, it’s not a stick you need,
                  but a little more indifference.
                  You’re so easily impressed,
                  you can’t control the way you look, I realize that,
                  but you might want to think of the way you behave.
                  When people admire you and tell you so,
                  you react so spontaneously,
                  they finish up by falling in love
                  with you, without quite meaning to,
                  Then they get over-optimistic, and
                  that keeps them dancing attendance on you. 
                  A little less enthusiasm on your part,
                  and this cortège of hopeful males
                  would melt away.
                  Or you might at least
                  tell me what sort of magic spell
                  Clitandre used
                  to get himself in your good books.
                  What sterling virtues, what solid merits do you find in him
                  that you hold him in such high esteem?  Could it be
                  the length of the nail on his little finger
                  that makes you so look up to him?
                  Are you like the rest of the beautiful people,
                  carried away
                  by the splendour of his periwig?
                  Do the oversize frills he wears at his knee
                  make everyone love him?
                  Or is it the ribbons that he sports
                  in such profusion?
                  Do the charms of his waistcoat make you his slave?
                  The way he giggles and his squeaky voice,
                  do they touch a hidden chord in you?
Célimène:  You’re being so unjust to him,
                  attacking him.  Don’t you see,
                  I keep in with him because of my lawsuit,
                  he promised me he could intervene
                  by influencing all his friends.
   Alceste:  Lose the case, don’t worry about it,
                  but don’t encourage him.  I can’t stand him.
Célimène:  And you’re getting jealous of everyone.
   Alceste:  Everyone’s your welcome guest.
Célimène:  That’s just what ought to reassure you, if you were worried,
                  since I’m always nice to everyone.
                  If I saved it all up for one man,
                  you might have something to worry about.
   Alceste:  You blame me for being jealous,
                   but what do I get from you
                   that they don’t?
Célimène:  The happiness of knowing you’re loved.
   Alceste:  And how do I bring myself to believe that?
Célimène:  I’ve gone out of my way to tell you so.
                  It seems to me  
                  that ought to be enough for you.
   Alceste:  But who can tell me that you don’t
                  say the same to other men,
                  perhaps, as well.

Célimène:  What a charming lover, what a sweet thing to say,
                  why are you so nice to me?
                  Very well!  To put your mind completely at rest,
                  I take back every word I said.
                  So from now on, 
                  if you think I’m two-timing you,
                  it’s your problem.
                  Now are you happy? 
   Alceste:  Why can’t I stop loving you?
                  If ever I manage to get myself
                  out of your clutches, I’ll thank heaven
                  for that supreme deliverance.
                  I don’t deny
                  I’m doing everything I can
                  to struggle against this awful attraction, 
                  but up till now, everything I’ve tried
                  has been quite useless.
                  It must be to punish my sins that I love you.
Célimène:  I do admit, your love for me is strange and rare.
   Alceste:  Yes, from that of point view I must be unique.
                  My love beggars imagination, and no-one, Madame,
                  ever loved anyone as I love you.
Célimène:  The way you go about it is certainly new.
                  When you love someone, you start a fight,
                  and pour out your passion in hurtful words.
                  There never was such a quarrelsome way
                  of showing affection.