Study Guide

The Miser Tough-o-Meter

By Molière

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Tree Line (5)

As far as 17th-century literature is concerned, this is about as accessible as it gets. Sure, some of the expressions are dated and there are a lot of exclamations that start with 'Ah!' But people in this play don't really mince words. They say exactly what they mean… even though they say it in an old-timey way.

It's also super-easy to figure out people's motives, because they tell you exactly what their motives are. Harpagon likes money. Cléante likes Mariane. Élise likes Valère. The list goes on. These aren't Game of Thrones-style characters with layers of dark desires and revenge-lust that come out bit by bit. Everything you need to know about these characters is stated upfront, in plain English… it's just that it's the plain English from the 1672 French-to-English translation.

All those French names with the accents can seem a little daunting at first, but we swear on our own buried moneyboxes that by about the end of Act I they start to fall into place. And if you find yourself scratching your head and getting dizzy by the tangled web of desires and lies and people running on and off the stage, remember that that's part of the the point. This confusion is the style of the comedy in The Miser. You're supposed to feel a little baffled and say to yourself "This is nutso." Go with it; it's like taking a 17th century French rollercoaster.

Hmm, a 17th century French rollercoaster sounds really freaking dangerous.

But if the plot and characters and intrigue get a little snarled in your mind and you want to untangle them double-quick, be sure to check out our Scene-by-Scene Summary.

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