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MonkeyNotes-Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare
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Act IV

Scene 1

Summary

Timon leaves his home in Athens and moves to his self imposed solitary exile in the woods. While leaving the city, he looks back and curses the people of Athens. He compares them to wolves. He curses the city and hopes that the city will be destroyed by; corruption, sickness, crop failures, chaos due to the failure of the government etc.

He advises all the slaves and fools to remove the Senators from their position and cripple them. He tells the bondservants, who have to serve for a number of years, to steal. He tells the robbers to rob their master’s grave.

After saying this he starts giving good advice which will benefit the society. He advises man to give respect to God and not to go against peace justice, truth etc. as this will bring ruin.

He calls Athens a ‘cold sciatica’ which is a venereal disease. He curses that like the friendship of his friends, the society too should become poisonous. Hatred must increase both in an around the city. Saying all these, Timon moves towards the woods. He hopes that the beasts in the woods will be kinder to him than mankind has been.


Notes

This act puts an end to Timon’s connection with the society. Timon leaves the city of Athens. The betrayal by the people, who he had trusted so much, comes as a great shock to him. It changes his attitude towards mankind and he becomes a misanthrope. In this scene, the readers notice the echoes of Lear’s explosion of revulsion against mankind. While leaving Athens, he curses the city and hopes that it will be completely destroyed.

The theme of beastliness is seen repeated, when Timon says that, ‘the unkindest beast’ appears kinder than human beings. Timon does not learn much from his experience and faults. He could have taken revenge or shrewdly taken the money from them. Instead, he is torturing himself by preferring exile to his home and society. This shows his lack of understanding of the ways of life.

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