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As the play opens Timon’s flattering friends are cursed by Apemantus.
‘The strain of man’s bred out
Into baboon and monkey’
The characters call themselves as well as the others as beasts. There is also a talk on how humanity has grown beastly. The Commonwealth of Athens has become a forest of beasts.
Timon leaves Athens and goes into the woods in order to get away from the wolves. He considers the wolves in the forest better than the ones (people) he was in the midst of. He can tolerate beast but not the beastliness in human beings. When Alcibiades meets him in woods, Timon tells him that he would have loved him if he were a dog. The dog, though an animal inferior to man, is still better than a human being.
The symbol that is most commonly used in the play is Gold. At the opening of the play, Timon uses gold to express his love for his friends and fellowmen. At the end of the play, when he turns into a misanthrope, the same Gold plays a major role in trying to bring about a destruction of mankind. Timon offers it to the prostitutes and the bandits to continue with their professions and spread evil in society. Gold therefore does not remain the symbol of love, but becomes the symbol of hatred.
Extremely free verse is present in most parts of the play. Sometimes the play runs smoothly with well-written speeches and sometimes the reader finds difference in the diction. A large proportion of irregular occurrence of prose, high number and a mixture of rhymed verse occur at unexpected places. It is pointed out in Act I, Scene 2, which begins as prose, has three lines of verse in between, goes back to prose and ends with a rhyme couplet. In Act III, Scene 5, there is irregularity in Alcibiades’ conversation with the Senator. The play contains blank verse, jingling rhyme, an uninspired prose.