Famous quotes explained: « And to esteem everyone is to esteem nothing », The Misanthrope, Molière, 1667.
And to esteem everyone is to esteem nothing. This is a very famous quote from Molière’s play The Misanthrope, scene 1 of act 1, performed in 1666 and published in 1667.
This quote is part of the first scene of the play and raises the central theme of the work: what is friendship? What should human relationships be like? This in a specific context, that of Louis XIV’s court in the 17th century. Like La Fontaine, Molière denounces courtiers and the reign of appearance, this theater of masks that was the court.
Alceste, the main character of The Misanthrope ,by this line, rejects appearance and hypocrisy in friendship and social relationships. It could be replaced by « To love everyone is to love no one. »
But more deeply, it means that we must be honest. The moral of the verse states that friendship is particular and cannot concern all of our relationships. If we cannot choose, it is because we do not choose. Thus, beware of someone who loves everyone, for he loves no one in particular. For Molière, this attitude is the first step towards hypocrisy.
And to esteem everyone is to esteem nothing
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