Timon of Athens is considered to be one of the most obscure and complicated pieces ever created by Shakespeare. The play has a very extraordinary composition and some of the researchers are sure it was not completed. Moreover, supposedly, it has some additions, made by other authors.
The protagonist of the play is Timon – a wealthy and generous lord of Athens, respected by its citizens, who by the end of the play gets disappointed in his friends and becomes a misanthrope. The world that looked so light and friendly to him, all over sudden turns out to be dark and hostile. Being in anger, Timon kills one his offenders and is thrown out of the city.
The character had a historical prototype, named also Timon, who really lived in Athens in the period of Peloponnesus Wars. According to Plutarch, he was not a very rich man and, in the grip of poverty, he appealed for help to his friends, but they refused to assist him and Timon started to hate not only them, but the whole humankind. His hatred was expressed in the epitaph, which was craved on his grave.
Long before Shakespeare, the character was used by different authors. The tragedy of Shakespearian Timon is his inability to find a compromise. It is the tragedy of the outstanding personality, whose life and destiny came into a conflict with the moral state of the society in general. If compared to other plays by Shakespeare, Timon of Athens almost has no personal motives. The entire plot of the piece is lying in his relationships with the state and its citizens.
In this play Shakespeare stepped aside from the drama of characters and presented the drama of ideas to the reader.