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Miser


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A: Molière Pf: 1668, Paris Pb: 1669 Tr: 1672 G: Com. in 5 acts; French alexandrines S: Harpagon's home, Paris, 17th c. C: 9m, 6fHarpagon, a widower, is a rich old miser with two children. His son Cléante is in love with Mariane, a poor neighbour. His daughter Élise is in love with Valère, who has managed to gain employment as Harpagon's steward. Exploiting the poverty of Mariane's mother, Harpagon forces her to offer her beautiful young daughter in marriage. Cléante's servant loyally intervenes on his master's behalf, and with his girlfriend steals Harpagon's gold, which will be returned only if he abandons his lustful pursuit of Mariane. By an extraordinary coincidence it turns out that Mariane and Valère are brother and sister, the lost children of Harpagon's neighbour and friend Anselme, who is in fact a wealthy Italian count. At the end everyone is joyous: the Count reunited with his family, the lovers free to wed, and Harpagon in possession of his gold once more.

A: Molière Pf: 1668, Paris Pb: 1669 Tr: 1672 G: Com. in 5 acts; French alexandrines S: Harpagon's home, Paris, 17th c. C: 9m, 6f

Loosely based on Plautus' The Pot of Gold, this comedy differs from most of Molière's in that the ending does not bring about the defeat or cure of the blocking figure, Harpagon. He remains a miser and in possession of his wealth. Indeed, Harpagon is not a typical obsessive figure, in that, although his first love is his gold, he also wishes to marry a young woman, which conflicts with his miserliness (there is no suggestion that marriage might bring him more money, since he is taking a penniless bride). It is only the improbable discovery of the birth of Mariane and her brother that saves a situation, in which lives might otherwise be destroyed by Harpagon's avarice.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Molière (1622—1673) French dramatist


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