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Philanthropist


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A: Christopher Hampton Pf: 1970, London Pb: 1970 G: Com. in 6 scenes S: Philip's college room, traditional English university, 1970s C: 4m, 3fJohn has read his new play to Philip, a lecturer in Philology, and Donald, a fellow tutor in English. The critical remarks of the latter particularly upset John. John's play ends with a suicide, and to demonstrate its effectiveness, he puts a revolver in his mouth and accidentally blows his head off. A few days later, Philip is giving a dinner party, to which he has invited Donald, his fiancée Celia, Braham Head, a fashionable novelist, and two young women Elizabeth and Amarinta. Donald reports that the Prime Minister and his cabinet have been assassinated by a mad right-wing army officer. Donald questions Philip's decision to marry Celia, and suggests that he should choose Elizabeth. After the dinner party, Braham offers Celia a lift home, Donald leaves with Liz, and Amarinta stays behind and seduces Philip. The next morning, Celia discovers Amarinta in Philip's room and leaves, saying that she will never see him again. Amarinta expresses disappointment with Philip's performance and is offended by his refusal to try again. Celia returns, tells Philip that she spent the night with Braham, and parts from Philip, unable to envisage a marriage with someone who is so unassertive. That evening, Philip has decided to ask Liz to marry him, but then learns that Donald and Liz have fallen in love. He points a gun at himself, pulls the trigger – and lights a cigarette.

A: Christopher Hampton Pf: 1970, London Pb: 1970 G: Com. in 6 scenes S: Philip's college room, traditional English university, 1970s C: 4m, 3f

The Philanthropist is a witty response to Molière's The Misanthrope (with the same constellation of characters, Celia even echoing the name of Célimène). Both Argan and Philip are emotional incompetents, but Philip attempts to be nice to everybody, which merely alienates them. His good nature and his detachment from the violent political events happening in the real world make him as eccentric and as destructive as his classical forebear.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Authors

Christopher Hampton (b. 1946)


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