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Tartuffe, Religion

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The context surrounding the period in which Tartuffe was written in, the 17th Century is remembered as being a time of extreme power for the French Monarchy. King Louis XIV and Cardinal Richelieu transformed France’s feudal monarchy to an absolute monarchy. What must also be noted about this time is the fact that the Catholic Church and Politicians had a great deal of power over authors and playwrights. In this time of social and religious persecution, Molière created Tartuffe , a comedy dealing with hypocrisy and to a great extent, religion and how religion can be used in a negative way, to mask sin. The play is known to be offensive towards the Catholic Church and religion in general. When it was first performed in 1664, it was censored, it then took 5 years, until 1669 for the revised version of the play to be authorised. However it was and still is criticised by the religious community, as they believe Molière is attacking faith causing offense and a perception that he’s trying to destroy people’s faith in religion. A quote which adequately expresses the central meaning of the play and which shows that the play is an attack on religion, in particular the Catholic Church is in Molière a playwright and his audience, By William Driver Hawarth (p.203) and states; “Molière is not only ridiculing the beliefs of real-life bigots in the society in which he lived, more than that, he is making a forceful statement by comic means about habits of thought common to bigoted thinkers in every age, people who use authority of church or political party as the justification for anti-social attitudes or inhuman activities”. This suggests that Molière isn’t attacking religion as a whole, but particular individuals who abuse religion and defy the object of ‘faith’. Therefore, In order to assess to what degree Molière is attacking the Catholic Church in the play, it is important to analyse the characters within the play, and whether they are hypocrites or true believers. If they...

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