Study Guide

Valère in The Miser

By Molière

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Valère has been in love with Élise ever since he first saw her—you know, when he saved her from drowning. The problem is that he's just a humble servant working for Élise's family. We find out early in the play that the young man is looking for his long-lost parents, because for some reason, he thinks that finding them will somehow solve his problems with Harpagon.

In the meantime, though, he has decided to do everything he can to get into Harpagon's good books, saying to Élise, "[If] you need people you have to adapt to them and since there is no other way of getting their backing, well then, the blame lies not with the flatterers but with those who wish to be flattered" (1.1.13). In other words, he knows that it's dishonest for him to fake his loyalty to Harpagon. But in his mind, this isn't his fault, but Harpagon's for being so eager to have someone kiss up to him.

Valère is willing to do anything to prove his love for Élise, telling her, "If actions alone reveal us as we are, then at least wait and judge my love by mine" (1.1.7). He is willing to do what it takes to be with her, even if it means working as a servant for her father. This work is way beneath Valère's station in life, because (as we find out later) he is actually descended from an Italian nobleman and "the whole of Naples can testify to (his) birth and family" (5.5.9). The only reason he stopped looking for his parents to begin with was because he got sidetracked by Élise's beauty and took a job as a servant to be near her. Awww. He is one dedicated—and also one crafty—young suitor.

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