Since they are both financially dependent on Harpagon, both Cléante and Élise basically have no freedom. If Harpagon were willing to spare them only a slight portion of his wealth, they'd have some autonomy. But the old man isn't just a cheapskate; he also likes having his children under his thumb. Besides, if he can marry them off in a strategic way he'll be able to make a bunch of money off of their spouses. It's understandable that money equals freedom for many characters in The Miser.
Questions About Freedom and Confinement
Are Cléante and Élise's feelings of confinement in this play well-founded? Why or why not?
Do you think Harpagon is truly responsible for his children feeling as though they have no freedom; or do other characters need to get their acts together and make their own money?
In what ways are money and freedom the same thing in The Miser? How are they different? By hoarding his money, is Harpagon actually buying himself more and more freedom? Use examples from the text to support your answer.
Chew on This
In The Miser, Molière shows us that you can truly never have enough money, because every dollar you add to your pile makes you freer from the ups and downs of everyday life.
In The Miser, we learn that having more money actually confines us more than having little, because the more you have, the more you devote yourself to protecting it.