Study Guide

The Miser Madness

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Harpagon doesn't just love money. He's obsessed with it. You might even say that he's coo-coo for money the way that Sonny is coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs.

He's so obsessed with his money, in fact, that in several places in The Miser, he becomes downright hysterical at the thought of losing a single penny. Add to that the fact that he is always paranoid, and you've got a character that is always on the verge of becoming totally unhinged by his love for money. Molière does just about everything he can to tell us not to be like this guy.

Questions About Madness

  1. Do you think Harpagon's reaction to the loss of his moneybox can rightfully be classified as "insanity"? Why or why not?
  2. If you could pinpoint a single line in this play where Harpagon is the most mentally unstable, which one would it be? Be sure to include a discussion of the text surrounding it to give context to your choice.
  3. Are there any characters other than Harpagon who seem a little nutso in this play, or does everyone except the miser seem sane? Why?

Chew on This

In The Miser, Harpagon's precaution with money might make him the only sane man in a world of crazy spenders.

In The Miser, Harpagon's obsession shows us that there's a very fine line between greed and madness.

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