Tartuffe: Truth and Religious Teachings

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Dana Epstein
Professor Morris
ENG 2850 TR54C
October 13, 2009

The Illusions That Define Us: Appearance versus Reality

“Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration.” That quote by Nicollo Machiavelli is simply defined as, what you see is not always what you get and few men have the gift of being able to see through an appearance. In Tartuffe and Monkey, appearances are far from reality in many instances. Even though both texts were written in different milieus both societies focus strongly on religion and material value. Both characters are deceived by power, desires and the need to prove themselves. Spiritually is used to enlighten and religious teachings help Monkey to see the truth.  However, Orgon needs to trust his senses because spirituality is used to deceive. The realization that is difficult for the audience to distinguish the difference between appearance and reality in both stories is very evident. In Tartuffe, Orgon is deceived by the holy zealous Tartuffe solely based on his false piety of religion. His need for power and prestige blinds his ability to see the truth about Tartuffe. He is so enthralled by Tartuffe because he enriches Orgon with power by appealing to his desires. Tartuffe is claiming to be a traditional figure of authority by presenting himself as a holy man and Orgon foolishly goes against everyone’s feeling towards Tartuffe and falls for his act. The audience is not told that Tartuffe is a liar or hypocrite but, through his words and the actions that follow, it allows the audience to differentiate between the lying Tartuffe and the honest family. In the first scene, Dorine states her feelings toward Tartuffe. “You see him as a saint. I'm far less awed; In fact, I see right through him. He's a fraud." Tartuffe, the hypocritical fraud, does no appear until act three, allowing the audience to see the other characters as honest witnesses to...
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