The Reason of Harpagon's Greed
Although in his comedy The Miser Molière places emphasis on human greed majorly in the lights of social and moral behaviors, the play is suggestive of psychological dimension the author attributes to this problem.
Indeed, as the main character of the play, Harpagon is obsessed with money that obviously guarantees a material well-being to him, but such an addiction can also evidence psychical lacunas that he believes a fortune can replace. In particular, Harpagon seems to be totally disillusioned in surrounding people as he instantly suspects them of betrayal on their part. On the contrary, money signify something much more valid for him, so that the father of the family extrapolates his profound need in trust and personal safety on money. In particular, the way in which Harpagon keeps his money, may reveal many insightful details about his character. Thus, the man buries his treasure in the backyard and keeps the place in a total secret.
This action reminds of a ritual, by accomplishing which Harpagon tends to preserve everything to what he attributes a sacred meaning. Basically, Harpagon is a widower, and his prehistory with the first wife remains unrevealed. We know nothing about his relationship in the first marriage and how his spouse’s death affected him, so that we can suggest that it was a traumatizing experience that provoked a sense to control things, such as the death of his dearest. However, we know for sure that by burring money and keeping them from spending Harpagon wants them to stay untouched and more durable.
t is especially highlighted in the episode where Harpagon wants to get rid of La Flèche, Cléante’s valet, whom he suspects of spying: “I won’t always have before me a spy on all my affairs; a treacherous scamp, whose cursed eyes watch all my actions, covet all I possess, and ferret about in every corner to see if there is anything to steal” (Scene III, Act 1, 6). This obviously proves that Harpagon is rather skeptical about other people even if they wish nothing bad to him. It is also a telling fact that Harpagon feels comfortable with the possibility to keep everything under his own control, including the arrangement of his children’s marriages. In the same conversation with his son’s valet, Harpagon comments: “I will lock up whatever I think fit, and mount guard when and where I please” (Scene III, Act 1, 6).
As a matter of fact, this may also evidence that Harpagon experiences psychological lacunas, and a strict control over his money gives him illusion of controlling the course of his own life as well as lives of other people. In other words, Harpagon’s problem is that he substitutes human relationships with artificial matters, such as money.
Molière. The Miser. Tr. Charles Heron Wall. Project Guttenberg. E Book 6923. 6 January 2009. Retrieved March 1, …