Study Guide

The Miser What's Up With the Ending?

By Molière

What's Up With the Ending?

Anselme: Seigneur Harpagon, you must forgive him for lying.
Harpagon: Will you pay the Officer then?
Anselme: So be it. But now let us go and share our joy with your mother.
Harpagon: And I'll go and see my lovely money-box again.
(5.6.21-4).

These final four lines of the play tell us nearly everything we need to know about Harpagon and his foil, the kind Monsieur Anselme. For starters, Harpagon has told a police officer to arrest one of his servants for lying about who took his moneybox. The officer, of course, needs to be paid for his time, and Harpagon isn't about to plunk down the cash.

M. Anselme, however, quickly intervenes and asks Harpagon to forgive Jacques for lying. He himself agrees to pay the officer's fee, showing that he is more generous to a total stranger (since he doesn't know Jacques) than Harpagon is to his own employee. Anselme's willingness to spend money for the good of others makes him a way more likeable dude than Harpagon.

Finally, the only thing Anselme can think of at the end of this play is taking his children to see their mother and celebrating their engagements. It's a beautiful family reunion between long-lost relatives. But Harpagon can only think about seeing his "lovely money-box again." In case we hadn't gotten the point, Molière rubs our noses in it one more time. Miserliness doesn't just mean being cheap. It means being selfish and it comes at the expense of your family.

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