Study Guide

Anselme in The Miser

By Molière

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As we discover at the end of the play, Anselme is actually an Italian nobleman who has changed his name in order to escape the pain of his former life—he thought he had lost his wife and children in a terrible shipwreck. As he discovers at the end of the play, though, both his children and wife are still alive, and he reveals himself to Valère and Mariane as their father, saying, "Yes, my daughter. Yes, my son. I am Don Thomas D'Alburcy" (5.5.32).

Even before he reveals himself as a sort of fairy godfather, Anselme shows us that he's a nice guy. For starters, he has no interest in marrying Élise if she doesn't want to marry him back. This reaction lies in stark contrast to Harpagon's, who plans on forcing his kids to do whatever he wants no matter how they feel about it. Anselme also is more than willing to spend money to secure happiness for the people he loves. As he says to his children, "Well, I have enough [money] for both so that needn't worry you" (5.6.11). It's only Anselme's generosity that allows his children and Harpagon's children to escape the financial control Harpagon holds over their lives.

At the end of the play, Anselme shows his true colors by telling his children, "So be it. But now let us go and share our joy with your mother" (5.6.23). Harpagon, by contrast, can only think about how happy he'll be to see his moneybox again. Or in other words, Anselme is a good, generous, caring man, while Harpagon is just a bitter old miser who'll never change and will end up spending the rest of his life alone.

How's that for a play with a clear moral?

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