It's no shocker that the number one theme in a play called The Miser is greed. Nearly everything that comes out of the character Harpagon's mouth in this play seems to warn us against the dangers of turning into a stingy jerk. If you are stingy, no one will like you and you'll end up alone.
The strange thing is, though, that Harpagon doesn't really seem to care if he's alone as long as he gets his money. By the end of the play he hasn't changed at all, which is just a testament to Molière's cynicism concerning whether or not old dogs can learn new tricks. According to Moliere, they cannot.
Questions About Greed
Do you sympathize with Harpagon at all? Has there ever been a time in your life where you felt reluctant to part with your money, even if you had more than you needed?
Where do you think stinginess and greed come from? Do you think it's natural for humans to always want more, or do we just live in a modern culture that encourages us to never be satisfied?
Judging by what Cléante and Élise say early in the play, do you think Harpagon was less greedy when his wife was still alive? Why or why not? Back up your answer with quotations from the play.
Chew on This
Harpagon is actually the hero of The Miser because he is financially independent and he refuses to let the world change him.
Above all else, The Miser is supposed to teach us that love and family should be prioritized before money, even if we live in total poverty.