Here’s a recipe for a play that stays popular for centuries: Take two siblings who both want to marry the people they love. Add a d-bag of a father. Mix in the father's plot to have his daughter marry another guy who's rich and old. Sprinkle in the father's plan to marry the woman his son is in love with. Et voila! You've done it!
Like many old-timey comedies, The Miser focuses on marriage as a symbol of both conflict and resolution. When people can't marry the people they love, you get a whole lot of conflict. When they can, you've got resolution. Pretty straightforward stuff, really. But also pretty enduring stuff.
Questions About Marriage
In your opinion, is the ending to this play too neat and tidy? What, if anything, could Molière have done to make it more interesting?
What eventually convinces Harpagon to let Cléante marry Mariane and to let Élise marry Valère? Why does it convince him? Use quotations from the text to back up your answer.
Does this play put too much emphasis on marriage as a road to happiness? Can we assume that everything will be fine for Cléante and Élise once they're married?
Chew on This
In The Miser, Molière more or less suggests that everything in life will work out for people who marry the ones they love.
In The Miser, Molière suggests that it is the duty of children to respect their fathers' wishes and to marry whomever he chooses.