Study Guide

The Miser Respect and Reputation

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Respect and Reputation

In The Miser it's no secret to the people of Paris that Harpagon is an old miser who is always looking for a way to save a little bit of money, no matter how ridiculous he may seem. When a loyal servant named Jacques tells Harpagon this, though, he freaks out and beats poor Jacques.

It turns out that even though he's a stingy old jerk, Harpagon cares very deeply about what people think of him. On top of that, he doesn't even seem to realize that people think of him as cheap. It takes a whole lot of delusional thinking not to realize that everyone thinks you're a cheapo when you try to send back uneaten food for a refund.

Questions About Respect and Reputation

  1. Is it fair for everyone in The Miser to make fun of Harpagon behind his back? Are they spineless for not telling him to his face?
  2. How much do you think Harpagon cares about what other people think of him? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
  3. Does Harpagon like the idea of people knowing that he's a rich man? Why or why not? Use specific quotations from the text to support your answer.

Chew on This

In The Miser, Molière shows us that your life isn't worth much if your reputation is terrible.

In The Miser, we discover that it doesn't matter what people think of you if you have a lot of money.

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