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MonkeyNotes-Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare
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OVERALL ANALYSES

CHARACTERS

Timon

Timon is a prosperous rich man. His passion for life is heart rendering and awe-inspiring. Wealth and richness is everything to him and he rejoices in what money can buy. He does not have family or relatives and is therefore reckless in his actions.

Timon is very fond of holding grand feasts. His guests never leave empty handed, that is, Timon showers them with gifts. There is one major flaw in Timonís character. That is, he is very susceptible to flattery. All of his so-called friends take advantage of this weakness. Timon however trusts his friends completely and holds the view that the utility of a friend reduces to that of unused musical instruments if one does not come to the friend at the time of need. He even believes that a person must consider his friendís property to be his own. He is therefore quite blind to the shallowness of the friends that he keeps. It is because of the fact that he trusts his friends so implicitly that, he is so hurt by their betrayal. Timonís servant Flavius tries to warn him against spending so much but Timon does not give any importance to his warnings. It is only when creditors come to his doorstep that he realizes that he is bankrupt. Timon is sure that his friends will come to his assistance and sends his servants to get help from them. These selfish and hypocrite friends now reveal their true colors. All of them, which includes Lucullus, Sempronius and Lucius, refuse to help him by giving some excuse or the other. Ventidius too, who Timon had helped out of prison by clearing all his dues, refuses to help him. The Senators also refuse his request for help. Timon is completely shattered.

He however decides to teach his Ďfriendsí a lesson. He invites them for a banquet. The invitees arrive happily thinking that Timon is once again going to shower them with gifts. Timon however serves them only warm water. When the guests express their surprise, he curses them, throws the water on them and drives them away. He does this in order to show them that they are only worthy of his contempt.


The ingratitude of his friends changes Timon completely and he becomes a hater of mankind. He decides to leave the city of Athens and go into the woods, as he believes that beasts will be more grateful than men have been. As he leaves Athens he curses the city and hopes that the city will be destroyed. While digging for roots to eat, he finds a hoard of gold. He decides to use it to bring about the destruction of mankind.

When Alcibiades comes to meets him in the woods Timon becomes very angry, as he no longer wishes to have anything to do with mankind. Timon even goes to the extent of bribing the two prostitutes, who accompany Alcibiades, with gold so that they can carry on their trade and spread diseases. Apemantus comes to see Timon and says that he loves Timon now more than ever. Timon offers him some gold and tells him to spread the message in Athens that he is wealthy once again. Timon tells Apemantus that he would have loved him if he were a dog. The dog being an animal inferior to man is still better than human. Apemantus the cynic points out that he had earlier considered Timon to be a madman and then a fool, but he is actually he was a fool, and then a madman. They soon get into an argument and Timon chases Apemantus out.

Some robbers come to rob Timon of the gold. Timon however voluntarily gives them the gold and asks them to continue with their profession. Earlier he has paid two prostitutes to spread diseases. These actions of Timon show the extent of his hatred for mankind. The man who once loved to be surrounded by people and who was famous for his banquets now does not want anything to do with people. The only person who remains loyal to Timon throughout his life is his servant Flavius. He pays the other servants with the money that he has saved, after Timon leaves the city of Athens. He even volunteers to stay and serve Timon once Timon goes into the woods.

Timonís attitude towards mankind does not change till his death. Timon therefore himself seems an unsatisfactory character. He is colorless and neutral. He is a symbol of misanthrope and not a man.

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