The Miser by Molière

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The Miser's plot, involving a rich money-lender called Harpagon, whose feisty children long to escape from his penny-pinching household and marry their respective lovers, is a comedy of manners to which the 17th-century French upper classes presumably objected. It is less savage, however, and somewhat less realistic than Molière's earlier play, Tartuffe, which attracted a storm of criticism on its first performance. The play is also notable for the way in which it sends up certain theatrical conventions. Many comedies from the Elizabethan period and onwards contain asides which are delivered by characters to the audience and which the other actors ignore. In L'Avare, however, characters generally demand to know who exactly these asides are being delivered to. The play's ending is also self-consciously ridiculous, mocking the French idea of comedy to better the comical effect of the play and its parts, while still taking in hand the tragedy of Harpagon and his life. Fortunately, this joke is preserved for modern audiences of a certain age because the conclusion of the play is now rather reminiscent of the emotional climax of the Star Wars trilogy, namely that an unexpected character turns out to be everyone's Father.

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The 627th greatest fiction book of all time


This book is on the following lists:

  1. - Great Books of the Western World (Great Books Foundation)

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