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Timon is the protagonist of the main plot. His passion for life is both heart rending and awe-inspiring. He is a very generous man, who freely distributes wealth among his ‘friends.’ He takes pleasure in whatever money can buy. His servant Flavius tries to warn him against his extravagance and later that he is bankrupt, but he still continues to generously give away his wealth. He is not a responsible man and lacks wisdom.
Alcibiades, Timon’s friend, is the protagonist of the subplot. He is a young soldier who has done a lot for the city of Athens. However, when he requests that a friend of his be pardoned for the murder that he has committed, he is sent to exile. Unlike Timon, he decides to fight against injustice. He leads his army against Athens and defeats the Senators.
Timon’s ungrateful friends Lucius, Lucullus, Sempronius, and Ventidius comprise of the antagonists of the play. They are mean and self-centered. All of them receive gifts from Timon when he is ‘rich.’ However, they refuse to come to his assistance when he is bankrupt and when he asks for their help. This shows the ungratefulness of these people, who only know how to take things from others but are not willing to give anything in return.
Timon has a lot of faith in his friends. He doesn’t know what is in store for him.
The climax occurs in Act IV. Timon turns into a misanthrope because of the betrayal by his friends. He can no longer tolerate the company of human beings. He leaves the city of Athens and starts living in a cave in the forest near Athens.
Timon uses his newfound gold to spread ruin in the society. Alcibiades invites him to join in his fight against Athens, especially the Senators. But, Timon refuses to accompany him and continues to spend his time cursing mankind and humanity. Before Alcibiades can conquer Athens, Timon passes away from the ungrateful world of mankind.
The play ends in a tragedy with Timon dying a lone man in the woods. But there is hope for the Athenians, as Alcibiades decides to establish a government based on honest principles.