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Moliere's Tartuffe

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  • October 8, 1999
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The Theme of Moliere's Tartuffe: Reason vs. Passion

Jean-Baptitste Poquelin Moliere's Tartuffe, is undoubtedly a satirical comedy. In Moliere's description of a satire, he was very direct as to the function and objectives of one are. The function is to correct men's vices, using satire to ridicule them and expose them to public laughter (Moliere, p.14). Although this satire is making fun of many things in the church and organized religion, which is not the only objective Moliere had in mind. Tartuffe has many themes that reoccur through out the play. The time period, in which this play was written, was known as the Age of Reason. One of the main ideas and attitudes during this time was, reason must always control passion. Due to this attitude, one theme that constantly appears through the play, is the battle between reason and passion.

In Act II, Scene 4, one of the major conflicts between reason and passion is played out. Valere confronts Mariane with the rumors he has heard about her marrying Tartuffe. Throughout this entire confrontation, they are letting their passions stop them from getting what they truly want, which is each other. Finally, Dorine brings about the reason that is needed in their situation. In lines 69-71, Dorine states," If you ask me, both of you are as mad as mad can be. Do stop this nonsense, now. I've only let you squabble so long to see where it would get you." Their passion is so strong; Valere and Mariane are blind to what the other is wanting. In this situation, Dorine plays the raisoneur, which is the person who tends to be reasonable throughout the play.

Cleante is another character that could be considered a raisoneur during the play. There is numerous times where he interjects reason into a situation. "Ought not a Christian to forgive, and ought he not to stifle every vengeful thought? Should you stand by and watch a father make his only son an exile for you sake? Again I tell you frankly, be...