of Work and First Performance
Miser (in French, L'avare) is a
five-act stage play generally
classified as a comedy of manners. Throughout the
play, the author brilliantly
blends satire and farce with a fast-moving plot that
features many surprises.
It was first performed on September 9, 1668, at the
court of the French
king, Louis XIV.
the protagonist in The Miser on a character
of Gold), a comedy by the ancient Roman
playwright Plautus (254-184
BC), according to the nineteenth-century French
scholar Eugène Benoist.
Benoist translated Aulularia in an edition
published in Paris in
1878 by Librairie Hachette.
the Plautus work, an elderly Athenian named Euclio
finds a pot of gold
that he keeps hidden from others while in the midst
of arranging for his
daughter to marry a wealthy neighbor. In the
Molière play, an elderly
Parisian named Harpagon keeps hidden a vast sum paid
to him while in the
midst of arranging a marriage between himself and an
attractive young woman.
may also have drawn a modicum of inspiration for his
character from the
life of Jacques Tardieu, a law-enforcement officer
attached to the Châtelet,
a Parisian court. Tardieu was a notorious usurer and
miser said to have
amassed a large fortune that made him one of the
wealthiest citizens in
Paris. In 1665, three years before Molière
debuted his play, thieves
attempting to tap Tardieu's riches, murdered him and
his wife at their
residence on the Rue de Harlay. Many residents of
the city felt that Tardieu
got what he deserved.
action takes place in Paris in the 1660s at the
residence of an elderly
miser named Harpagon. The sun king Louis XIV sits on
the throne of France,
presiding over an age of high fashion, architectural
gossip, and court intrigue.
and protagonist, who spends most of his time
guarding his hoard of money
and devising ways to reduce or avoid paying
household expenses. He is a
widower who has one son, Cléante, and one
Although he is over seventy, he is attempting to
arrange a marriage between
himself and an attractive young woman, Marianne. Cléante:
of Harpagon. He loves Marianne, the young woman his
father wishes to marry,
and attempts to procure a loan to help her and her
sick mother, who are
impoverished. Élise: Daughter of
Harpagon and beloved of
Valère. Against her wishes, Harpagon hopes to
marry her to a wealthy
man of his choosing.
of Anselme (Don Thomas d'Alburci) and beloved of
Élise. He accepts
a job as steward in Harpagon's household to be close
of Cléante, who had saved her from
Mother: Sick woman cared for by her daughter.
It is revealed near the
end of the play that she is also the mother of
Valère and husband
of Anselme (Don Thomas d'Alburci). She has no
(Don Thomas d'Alburci):
Man to whom Harpagon wishes to marry Élise.
Near the end of the
play, it is revealed that he is the father of
Valère and Marianne,
whom he had thought were lost in a shipwreck. He is
reunited with them
after sixteen years.
who arranges for Harpagon to meet Marianne.
Simon: Go-between engaged by La Flèche
to obtain a loan for
Jacques: Harpagon's cook and coachman.
Servants assigned to washing glasses and serving
wine at a special dinner
in Harpagon's house.
Officer who hears Harpagon's complaint that his
money cache has been stolen.
of the police magistrate. He has no speaking part.
who survived a shipwreck with Valère. He has
no speaking part.
Seaman who rescued Valère and Pedro and
raised Valère as
his own son. He has no speaking part.
of Harpagon. He has no speaking part.
some of his plays in verse and some in prose. The
in prose. This format allowed him to break free of
the rigid rules of Alexandrine
verse, the standard format for plays in
seventeenth-century France. (Examples
of his plays in Alexandrine verse are Tartuffe
and The Misanthrope.)
Hobart C. Chatfield-Taylor
(1865-1945) has written that Molière's prose
dialogue is unsurpassed
in its brilliance: "Molière's . . . genius
lay, above all else in
telling the truth about mankind,--and prose was its
normal vehicle. As
a poet, he has been surpassed, but never as a writer
of concise, vigorous,
and truthful prose dialogue,--a dialogue so
expressive of human thoughts
and human emotions that his characters are still as
lifelike as on the
day they were drawn" (335).
C. Molière: a Biography. New York:
Duffield and Company,
daughter of the miser Harpagon, tells Valère
that she loves
him very much but worries that he will lose interest
fear that cruel coldness with which your sex so
often repays the too warm
proofs of an innocent love” (1.1), she says.
he reaffirms his love for Élise, her spirits
rise and she praises
him for his attentions to her, beginning with the
time when he saved her
from drowning. That was when they first met and fell
in love. Thereafter,
for her sake, he neglected searching for his
parents, from whom he was
separated years before by a shipwreck that cast him
adrift. A Spanish ship
rescued him and his elderly servant. The fate of his
parents was unknown.
Valère also reminds Élise that he gave
up his title of nobility
in order to become her father's household steward.
To get the job, Valère
flattered Harpagon, praised his weaknesses as
strengths, and pretended
to agree with him on all matters.
living in the household is Élise's brother,
next time she is alone with him, he confides to her
that he loves a young
woman named Marianne. She devotes herself to caring
for her sick mother
but has little money to pay for necessities. When
her at her home, they have no time for courtship.
She does not even know
his name, although he realizes that she loves him.
like to provide financial assistance for her and her
mother, but he cannot
because of the tight knot his father keeps around
the family purse strings.
Cléante reminds his sister that they do not
even have decent clothes
to wear because of their father. Cléante then
asks her to speak
with their father about his predicament in regard to
Marianne. If he refuses
help, Cléante says, he will leave home.
is but too true that every day he gives us more and
more reason to regret
the death of our mother,” Élise says.
they hear their father approaching, they go
elsewhere to finish their talk.
is browbeating La Flèche, Cléante's
servant, for no particular
reason other than he wishes to do so. When Harpagon
orders La Flèche
out of the house, he pats him down and checks his
pockets to make sure
that he does not walk off with some valuable from
the house. After La Flèche
leaves, Harpagon talks to himself, saying, “I hardly
know whether I did
right to bury in my garden the ten thousand crowns
which were paid to me
yesterday.” (He does not keep the money in the house
for fear that a thief
will find it.)
Élise, having completed their talk, approach
their father and
say they wish to speak with him about marriage.
Harpagon says they need
not bother themselves about that subject, for he has
already made plans
that he says will please everyone. Then he asks
he knows a young girl named Marianne, who lives
acknowledges that he does. Harpagon next asks
Cléante what he thinks
of her. Believing that his father has chosen for him
the very girl that
he already loves, Cléante praises her as
charming, modest, intelligent,
thrifty—perfect in every way. When Harpagon notes
that she lacks a fortune,
Cléante says money is of small importance
compared with virtue.
Delighted with his son's responses, Harpagon then
announces that he plans
to marry Marianne “provided I find she has some
Cléante leaves the room to be alone. Turning
to Élise, Harpagon
says he has selected a widow for Cléante to
marry and has chosen
a certain Mr. Anselme for Élise, noting that
he is "a staid and
prudent man, who is not above fifty, and of whose
riches everybody speaks”
refuses to marry Anselme. Harpagon insists that she
She again refuses.
will marry him this very evening” (1.6), he says.
that she will kill herself rather than marry him.
to back down but says he is willing to let
Valère decide the matter.
Élise thinks it a good idea, especially since
she and Valère
are secretly in love.
Harpagon tells Valère that they have chosen
him to settle an argument,
Valère immediately sides with Harpagon
without knowing what the
argument is about. (He does so to avoid provoking
Harpagon.) Harpagon then
reveals that he has chosen Anselme as Élise's
future husband. Valère
is dismayed but does not object. When he is alone
with Élise, he
tells her that opposing Harpagon would only have
worsened their chances
of getting their way. The best thing to do, he says,
is to play along with
Harpagon for the time being. As for the scheduled
wedding in the evening,
he tells her to pretend that she is sick.
on orders from Cléante, La Flèche has
struck a deal on a
loan of fifteen thousand francs for Cléante.
If the deal goes through,
Cléante will use the money to help Marianne
and further his goal
of being with her. La Flèche tells
Cléante that he had to
use a broker, Master Simon, to negotiate the loan
agreement with a lender
who wishes to remain anonymous. The lender will
charge an interest rate
of only 5.5 percent, La Flèche says. But
because the lender himself
must borrow money for the loan at a rate of twenty
will have to pay a total of 25.5 percent interest.
Cléante is understandably
upset, but he says he will accept the terms.
However, there is another
condition: The lender will provide only twelve
thousand francs in coins. He will
provide the rest in property, including a bed,
chairs, wall hangings, a
walnut table, a brick furnace, a lute, a table, and
a stuffed lizard skin.
Cléante complains that he will not be able to
sell the items for
even a fraction of the additional three thousand
francs he is to receive.
later, Simon comes in and tells Harpagon about a
young man “who will submit
to all your conditions” in order to secure the money
he needs. (The audience
learns at this point that Harpagon is the anonymous
lender.) When Harpagon
asks whether the borrower is trustworthy, Simon says
the young man comes
from a wealthy family whose money he will inherit.
His mother is already
dead and, says Simon, his father is expected to die
within eight months.
but out of earshot, are Cléante and La
Flèche, who are surprised
to see Simon conferring with Harpagon. When Simon
looks their way and sees
La Flèche, he assumes that the young man with
La Flèche is
the person for whom La Flèche was seeking the
he introduces Harpagon to Cléante, unaware
that they are father
and son, saying that Cléante is the borrower.
Harpagon and Cléante
then exchange insults. Simon runs off. La
Flèche hides. The heat
of the conversation intensifies.
you who are ruining yourself by loans so greatly to
So it is
you who seek to enrich yourself by such criminal
And you dare,
after that, to show yourself before me?
dare, after that, to show yourself to the world?
they exchange more insults, Cléante leaves. The
audience then learns
the following in the next several scenes:
has never met Marianne, although he has seen her. To
win her for himself,
he had engaged the services of a devious matchmaker,
Frosine, who has arranged
for Marianne to come to dinner in the evening under
the pretense that she
is to assist Élise in completing a marriage
contract pledging her
to Anselme. Marianne and Élise are to attend a
fair, then return
in time for the dinner.
Frosine arrives to report to Harpagon, she confers
with Harpagon on a matter
of paramount importance to the old miser: whether
Marianne will have a
handsome dowry. Frosine says Marianne will have a
dowry of twelve thousand francs
a year. Harpagon is pleased until Frosine explains
further details. Because
Marianne eats little, Harpagon's savings in food will
total three thousands francs.
Because she does not not require fancy clothes,
jewels, or furniture, Harpagon
will save four thousand francs more. Finally, because
she does not gamble, Harpagon
will save an additional five thousand francs. Thus,
the savings will total twelve thousand
francs—the amount of the dowry.
Harpagon balks at this arrangement and demands
something of material value,
Frosine says he will benefit from land Marianne's
family owns in a “certain
country.” Harpagon then observes that Marianne
might not like him
because of his advanced age. Frosine assures him,
however, that Marianne
is attracted only to men who are at least sixty. The
walls of her room,
in fact, are decorated with portraits of old men of
and Anchises, she says.
then asks payment for her services, noting that she
needs money urgently
for a lawsuit. Harpagon ignores the plea. Frosine
further praises Harpagon,
saying Marianne will be very pleased with him. Then
she asks again for
money. Harpagon again ignores her. After Frosine asks
several more times,
Harpagon says someone is calling him, then
Harpagon instructs his servants—Dame Claude (the
housekeeper), La Merluche,
Brindavoine, and Maitre Jacques—on their duties for
the dinner. Jacques
is both coachman and cook, an economizing measure that
to pay one man for the services of two. When he
instructs Jacques about
the food, Jacques removes his stable coat and dons
cook's garb. Later,
when he orders Jacques to clean his carriage and
prepare his horses for
a trip to the fair, Jacques changes back into his
Marianne arrives and Harpagon introduces himself,
Marianne quietly tells
Frosine what an unpleasant man Harpagon seems to be.
When Harpagon asks
Frosine what Marianne said, Frosine says that she
thinks he is perfect.
Meanwhile, Élise comes in, followed by
surprise. After Harpagon introduces his son,
Cléante welcomes Marianne
but expresses his opposition to a marriage between her
and his father.
Marianne then avows that she will not marry Harpagon.
calling his son impertinent and silly. Marianne
Cléante then lavishly praises Marianne and says
that the man who
marries her would possess the greatest treasure on
earth. Marianne and
Élise then go to the fair.
they return, Cléante asks Marianne whether she
has seen a diamond
more stunning than the one on his father's finger.
When she remarks how
beautiful it is, Cléante removes the ring and
shows it to Marianne,
saying her father wishes to give it to her. She is
dumfounded, calls his son aside to protest; but
Cléante tells Marianne
that his father has indicated that he will be offended
if she does not
take the ring. Harpagon becomes visibly furious with
then coaxes Marianne to accept the gift. She tells
Harpagon, “I will keep
it now, Sir, in order not to make you angry [with
Cléante]. . .
Harpagon and Cléante are alone later, they
argue over Marianne,
and Harpagon says he disowns and disinherits his son,
then curses him.
La Flèche has discovered Harpagon's money box
in the garden and
secretly shows it to Cléante, saying
Cléante's problems are
solved. However, Harpagon, who regularly checks the
garden to make sure
his money is safe, discovers that the box is missing.
and La Flèche hear Harpagon approaching from
the garden, they disappear.
thieves! assassins! Murder!” Harpagon shouts.
“Justice, just heavens! I
am undone; I am murdered; they have cut my throat;
they have stolen my
reports the theft to a police magistrate. When the
latter asks Harpagon
whom he suspects, Harpagon replies, “Everybody! I wish
you to take into
custody the whole town and suburbs” (5.1). When the
officer questions Jacques,
he blames Valère for the theft (to get revenge
on him for intervening
when Jacques asked for more money to cook the meal).
comes in, Harpagon questions him about the treasure he
has stolen. Valère,
believing that Harpagon is referring to Élise,
confesses that he
has stolen Harpagon's most precious treasure. They
continue to talk about
the stolen item until Valère refers to it as
“your daughter,” saying
they have signed a marriage promise. Harpagon tells
the policeman to arrest
enters and pleads for Valère, saying he once
saved her from drowning.
But Harpagon says, “Justice must have its course”
Anselme arrives for dinner, he asks Harpagon why he is
so upset. Harpagon
explains what has happened. Anselme then says he does
not wish to force
anyone to marry him; “but as far as your interests are
concerned, I am
ready to espouse them as if they were my own" (5.5).
Harpagon further berates Valère, saying he is
unworthy of his daughter,
Valère reveals that he is the son of a noble
and upright man known
to all of Naples, Don Thomas d'Alburci. Anselme well
knows the name but
doubts that Valère is telling the truth.
Valère says he can
prove what he says. Anselme then recalls that
d'Alburci perished in a shipwreck
with his wife and children when Don Thomas was
attempting to save them
during uprisings against nobility.
says there was indeed a shipwreck but that he, then
seven, and a servant
were rescued by a Spanish vessel. The captain of the
ship took him in and
raised him as his own son. “The profession of arms has
been my occupation
ever since I was fit for it” (5.5), Valère
says. Recently, he notes,
he heard that his father had not died after all. While
searching for him,
he encountered Élise and fell in love with her.
himself as a servant, he gained work in Harpagon's
house to be close to
her and sent a representative to look for his
Anselme asks for proofs, Valère mentions, his
father's ruby seal,
a bracelet his mother gave him, and the servant, an
old man named Pedro.
Marianne says she can vouch for all he says, for she
now knows that he
is her brother and that her mother is also
Valère's. Anselme then
reveals himself as their father. He had survived the
his money—but thought the rest of his family had died.
After sixteen years,
he had decided to seek a new wife in another country
and to change his
name to Anselme “to forget the sorrows of a name
associated with so many
and great troubles" (5.5).
then says Anselme is responsible for the money
Valère stole from
him. When Valère swears that he did not steal
tells Harpagon that he knows where the money is. If
Harpagon approves of
his marriage to Marianne, he will produce the money.
Harpagon then says
he has no money to give his children for their
weddings, but Anselme says
he will take care of all the expenses. In addition, he
will pay the police
officer for his trouble.
then goes off with his children to see his wife.
Harpagon is left with
his casket of money. .
ranks among the most tight-fisted characters in
world literature. Famous
fictional misers such as Ebenezer Scrooge and Silas
Marner reformed. Harpagon
never even thinks of doing so. At the end of the
play, he is more concerned
with his money than he is with the welfare of his
the shipwreck, the captain of the Spanish ship takes
in young Valère
and rears and loves him as his own son. To be close
to Élise, Valère—a
nobleman by birth—humbles himself and works as a
steward in the home of
Élise's father, Harpagon. Cléante
jeopardizes and eventually
loses his inheritance to help his beloved, Marianne,
and her mother. To
sustain her mother, Marianne provides her constant
nursing care while enduring
poverty. Don Thomas d'Alburci (Anselme) provides
large sums of money to
see that his children are happily married.
coincidence, serendipity—call it what you will—is at
work throughout the
play to bring people together and resolve conflicts.
For example, Frosine
the matchmaker unwittingly strikes an agreement that
brings Marianne to
the home of her beloved, Cléante, and her
Later, La Flèche just happens to find the
money cache that Cléante
later uses to force Harpagon to approve
Cléante's marriage to Marianne.
Don Thomas d'Alburci (Anselme), believing his wife
and children were all
lost in a shipwreck, begins a new life sixteen years
after the sea disaster—and
settles in the very town where his wife and children
are living. In Molière's
fictional seventeenth-century world, it seems,
serendipity often plays
the same role that fate did in the mythological
world of the ancient Greek
That Glitters Is Not
regards his money as his greatest treasure. But, as
out in The Merchant of Venice, “All that
glisters [glitters] is
not gold” (2.7.67). More valuable by far are love,
friendship, family harmony,
and common decency. In all of these things, Harpagon
Miser as a Satire
goal in The Miser was to satirize well-to-do
amassed tidy little fortunes through avarice and
achieves his goal mainly through witty, sharp-edged
dialogue that ridicules
the central character, Harpagon. The following
passage in the fifth scene
of Act 3 contains such ridicule. Jacques, the cook
and coachman, is conversing
am sorry to hear
every day what is said of you; for, after all,
I have a
for you; and, except my horses, you are the
like most in the
And I would know
from you, Master Jacques, what it is
said of me.
Sir, if I were sure you would not get angry
No, no; never
Excuse me, but
I am sure you will be angry.
No, on the contrary,
you will oblige me. I should be glad to
people say of
Since you wish
it, Sir, I will tell you frankly that you are the
that they taunt us everywhere by a
jokes on your account,
and that nothing delights people more
make sport of you,
and to tell stories without end about your
One says that
you have special almanacks printed, where
the ember days
and vigils, so that you may profit by the
which you bind
all your house; another, that you always have
ready-made quarrel for
your servants at Christmas time or when they
so that you may
give them nothing. One tells a story how
since you prosecuted
a neighbour's cat because it had eaten
remainder of a leg
of mutton; another says that one night you
horses' oats, and that your coachman,—that
is the man
who was before
me,—gave you, in the dark, a good sound
of which you said
nothing. In short, what is the use of
We can go nowhere
but we are sure to hear you pulled to
are the butt
and jest and byword of everybody; and never
but under the names of miser, stingy, mean,
fellow and usurer.
Je suis fâché
tous les jours d'entendre ce qu'on dit de
car, enfin, je me
sens pour vous de la tendresse, en dépit
aie; et, après
mes chevaux, vous êtes la personne que
de vous, maître Jacques, ce que l'on
si j'étais assuré que cela ne vous
Non, en aucune
je sais fort bien que je vous mettrais en
Point du tout;
au contraire, c'est me faire plaisir, et je suis
on parle de moi.
vous le voulez, je vous dirai franchement qu'on
partout de vous,
qu'on nous jette de tous côtés cent
sujet, et que l'on
n'est point plus ravi que de vous tenir au cul et
chausses, et de faire
sans cesse des contes de votre lésine.
que vous faites
imprimer des almanachs particuliers,
faites doubler les
quatre-temps et les vigiles, afin de profiter des
obligez votre monde; l'autre, que vous avez
querelle toute prête
à faire à vos valets dans le temps
leur sortie d'avec
vous, pour vous trouver une raison de ne leur
conte qu'une fois vous fîtes assigner le
chat d'un de
voisins, pour vous avoir
mangé un reste d'un gigot de mouton ;
vous surprit, une
nuit, en venant dérober vous-même
chevaux; et que votre
cocher, qui était celui d'avant moi, vous
je ne sais combien de coups de bâton, dont
Enfin, voulez-vous que je vous dise? On ne
nulle part où
l'on ne vous entende accommoder de toutes
êtes la fable
et la risée de tout le monde; et jamais on
que sous les noms
d'avare, de ladre, de vilain et de fesse-mathieu.
Climax . The
climax begins when Anselme arrives and ends when he
reveals that he is
the father of Valère and Marianne.
1668 (when Molière debuted The
a typical European family of means employed a
staff of servants to cook,
keep house, watch children, maintain stables, and
so on. Even middle-class
families of modest income usually had some
servants. Domestics not only
made life easier for their employers but also
enabled them to brag about
the quality and number of their hirelings in the
same way that modern families
brag about the quality and number of their
automobiles and home amenities.
Household servants in seventeenth-century France
may have included maids,
coachmen, cooks, stewards, wet nurses, gardeners,
and tutors. Good servants
often received clothing and other rewards in
addition to wages.
course, servants in the fictional household of
Harpagon receive anything
but generosity. Their presence in the play helps
to underscore Harpagon's
overzealous attention to his possessions.
Consider, for example, his instructions
to Dame Claude for the special dinner he is
you I commit the care of cleaning up everywhere;
but, above all,
very careful not to rub the furniture too hard,
for fear of wearing it
Besides this, I put the bottles under your care
if any one of them is missing, or if anything gets
be responsible for it, and pay it out of your
vous commets au soin de nettoyer partout; et
surtout prenez garde
ne point frotter les meubles trop fort, de peur
de les user. Outre cela,
vous constitue, pendant le souper, au
gouvernement des bouteilles;
s'il s'en écarte quelqu'une, et qu'il se
casse quelque chose, je
à vous et le rabattrai sur vos gages.
used hyperbole and dramatic irony to support his
infuse his dialogue with humor.
outstanding example of hyperbole appears in Jacques'
reply to Harpagon's
order to prepare his horses for a trip to the
horses! Upon my word,
Sir, they are not at all in a
to stir. I won't
tell you that they are laid up, for the
have got nothing
to lie upon, and it would not be telling
But you make
them keep such rigid fasts that they are
and mere shadows of horses. (3.5)
chevaux, Monsieur? Ma
foi! ils ne sont point du tout en état de
Je ne vous dirai
point qu'ils sont sur la litière : les
ont point, et ce serait fort mal parler ; mais
faites observer des
jeûnes si austères, que ce ne sont
des fantômes, des façons de chevaux.
dramatic irony to demonstrate Harpagon's inability
to see in himself
the shortcomings for which he blames others. In the
Harpagon criticizes Jacques for always thinking of
money. Harpagon, of
course, is the one who is obsessed with money.
Tell me, can you
give us a good supper?
Yes, if you give
me plenty of money.
The deuce! Always
money! I think they have nothing else to say
money, money, money!
Always that same word in their mouth,
of money! It's their pillow companion, money! (3.5)
Dis-moi un peu:
nous feras-tu bonne chère ?
Oui, si vous me
donnez bien de l'argent.
Que diable, toujours
de l'argent ! Il semble qu'ils n'aient autre
à dire: De
l'argent, de l'argent, de l'argent! Ah! ils n'ont
mot à la bouche,
de l'argent! toujours parler d'argent!
de chevet, de l'argent!
obsession with money,
Harpagon also fails to realize what audiences and
readers readily apprehend:
that the greatest treasure in his home is his
performances of The Miser, audience laughter
results not only from
what the characters say but also from what they do. For
example, when Harpagon chases La Flèche out of
the house in the
first act, he pats him down—as a policeman does a
see whether he is attempting to steal anything. In the
same act, the stage
directions repeatedly call for Harpagon to curtsey in
imitation of Élise.
Note the words in parentheses:
I have no wish to marry, father, if you please.
And I, my little girl, my darling, I wish you to
marry, if you please.
again). I beg your pardon, my father.
Élise). I beg your pardon, my daughter.
I am the very
humble servant of Mr. Anselme, but (curtseying
again), with your leave,
I shall not marry him.
I am your very
humble servant, but (again imitating Élise)
you will marry him this
again). It cannot be done, father.
Élise). It will be done, daughter. (1.6)
révérence). Je ne veux point me
marier, mon père,
s'il vous plaît.
Élise). Et moi, ma petite fille, ma mie, je
veux que vous vous mariez,
s'il vous plaît.
la révérence). Je vous demande pardon,
Élise). Je vous demande pardon, ma fille.
Je suis très
humble servante au seigneur Anselme; mais (faisant
encore la révérence),
avec votre permission, je ne l'épouserai
Je suis votre
très humble valet; mais (contrefaisant
Élise) avec votre
permission, vous l'épouserez dès ce
ce soir ?
la révérence). Cela ne sera pas, mon
encore Élise). Cela sera, ma fille.
the third act, Jacques, who serves as both cook and
coachman, changes uniforms
on the spot depending on whether Harpagon addresses
him as cook or as coachman. .
Aeneas, the hero of Virgil's Aeneid.
Skinflints, userers. This term, which appears in the
original French version
of The Miser, is the plural of fesse-matthieu
an allusion to Saint Matthew. Before he became one
of the apostles of Jesus,
Matthew was a tax collector for Herod Antipas and
was said to have been
a usurer. In the English translation of the play,
the term usurers
is generally used. Here is the passage containing
the allusion, followed
by the English translation.
Ma foi, Monsieur, ceux qui empruntent sont bien
malheureux; et il faut
choses, lorsqu'on en est réduit à
passer, comme vous, par
Sir, those who borrow are much to be pitied, and
we must put up
strange things when,
like you, we are forced to pass through the hands
man who advised the Greeks during the Trojan War. For
see The Iliad. Priam:
of ancient Troy. For further information, see The
and Courtship Conflict: Common Literary Motif
character in The Miser do you most
admire? Explain your answer.
the most sensible person
in the play?
ways does the play resemble
a modern situation comedy?
exposes greed through comedy and satire. Others
condemn greed through serious
modes of expression, such as sermons or didactic
essays. Which approach
do believe is more effective? Write an essay
that presents your opinion.
Support your opinion with quotations from the
play and from research sources.
Harpagon's son and daughter
marry, Harpagon presumably will be alone in his
household except for his
servants. Do you believe he will change his
Molière Plays Analyzed by Cummings Study