Analysis of Tartuffe based on Aristotelian Methods

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Given CircumstancesThe given circumstances of Tartuffe are few, yet they are essential to the reading of the script. The time of Tartuffe is displayed through several ways: while no specific time is ever mentioned, we know that the play takes place sometime after 1640 because the currency mentioned (the Louis) was established in 1640. And since now specific time references are mentioned, we can assume the play takes in 'modern times' i.e. during the time it was written (the 1660's). The action of the play takes place in a single day.

Tartuffe takes place undoubtedly in France as shown by the currency, the use of French throughout the script and our assumption of it's modernity as mentioned above. The currency points exclusively to France because it is named after King Louis XIII of France and was used only in France. The French language is used throughout the script specifically in the names and was originally written in French. The specific locale of the play is in Orgon's house.

In the society of Tartuffe it is common practice to employ servants and maids and is completely acceptable to hit them as Orgon attempts to hit Dorine and the other characters make nothing of it. Parties are a touchy subject since most of the family think it ok to throw parties while Mme. Pernelle disagrees, thinking them most distasteful. Gambling is unacceptable, seen through Orgon's dismissal of Valère because he has heard Valère gambles. Family is invariably important since the play is centered around a single family.

The society of Tartuffe views social rank as extremely important: Orgon is of high rank and wealth and his family sees it deplorable for him to have befriended a poor beggar. Tartuffe is often put down, ironically by the servant Dorine, because of his low rank and lack of money.

Politics and law play a large part in the play. The ruling authority is a King and his laws are enforced by bailiffs and officers. Treachery is particularly offensive. Harbouring an exile's documents is also a grave offence.

Religion is obviously a huge factor in the play, as Tartuffe wins Orgon over by pretending to be a devout and pious man. While no specific religion or sect is named, we can deduce that it is a Bible based Christian religion and research tells us Roman Catholicism dominated the countries religious beliefs.

Of the exposition in the play we know that Orgon has been visiting the country for two days and during that time Elmire has fallen ill, Tartuffe has been taken in by Orgon and is living in the house as a spiritual guide, Aragas has fled the country and commissioned Orgon to look after his incriminating papers and that it has been agreed that Mariane and Valère are to be wed.

Learning and the arts are not specifically mentioned.

Action AnalysisBecause Tartuffe is written in the style of French scenes, it is difficult to find the actions of each scene. The main actions are:•1.4 Orgon returns home and asks about Tartuffe, ignoring the plight of his wife•2.1 Orgon tells Mariane she will marry Tartuffe•2.4 Mariane and Valère argue and then formulate a plan with Dorine•3.3 Tartuffe confesses his love for Elmire•3.4 Damis catches Tartuffe and Elmire•3.5 Damis tells Orgon about Tartuffe and Elmire•3.6 Orgon accuses Damis of slander, turns him from the house and disinherits him•3.7 Orgon makes Tartuffe his heir•4.4 Orgon hides under the table•4.6 Orgon admits Tartuffe is a hypocrite•4.7 Orgon confronts Tartuffe, who is now the owner of the house•54. The Bailiff comes to serve Orgon with an eviction notice•5.7 Tartuffe is arrested and order is restoredThe central through-action of the play is Orgon ignoring his family's evidence that Tartuffe is a hypocrite. The counter-action is Tartuffe pretending to be devout and pious. The point of attack it fairly early, we get the impression that Tartuffe has not been staying with them long. The inciting incident is when Orgon returns home and ignores his family in 1.4. The...
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