Religious Fanaticism

Topics: Molière, Tartuffe, Family Pages: 5 (800 words) Published: October 8, 1999
In Moliere's comedy Tartuffe, The play centers on the

family of Orgon, a wealthy and impressionable man, his

central target of ridicule is Orgon. Orgon is Moliere's

character of how man can be so blind in his devotion to a

belief that he cannot make a good judgement as to the

sincerity of others who would use that belief to deceive

him. This play fits into the concept of comedy because all

of the elements of comedy are present. It happens that the

title character is the villain rather than the hero and some of

the elements have been tampered with. In Tartuffe, we

have the classic comic scenario of two lovers, Valere and

Marianne, trying to get together but being thwarted.

However, instead of the villain, Tartuffe is not the one who

is antagonizing them, it is Orgon who gets in the way.

Orgon tries to flatter Tartuffe by offering Marianne to be his

wife. Before it is all over, Orgon ends up giving the deed to

all his land to the deceitful Tartuffe. The other comic

elements such as the unmasking of the villain and the happy

ending are also present in Tartuffe. It is in the duality of

Orgon, who is a believing and devoted subject, and

Tartuffe, the manipulating hypocrite. Moliere takes his shot

at the extremes of enthusiastic belief. Tartuffe plays the role

of a man whose greedy actions are cloaked by a mask of

overwhelming piety, modesty and religious passion. Orgon

is the head of a household who has taken Tartuffe in, and

given him shelter and food. Everyone in the family, except

Orogon's mother, knows that Tartuffe is a fake. In this play

Moliere uses Cleante to emphasize pious qualities, Cleante

spoke with wisdom common sense and moderation. All of

Orgon's relatives try to warn him of Tartuffe's gluttony and

the false nature of his pious proclamations. When Dorine

tries to tell Orgon about how sick Elmire is, all Orgon can

say is "Ah and Tartuffe?" He is only concerned with the

well being of Tartuffe. When she tries to explain that

Tartuffe has no concern for Elmire's health, and that he is

only concerned with eating food, all he can say is "Poor

fellow!" Orgon is so caught up in his own perception of

Tartuffe as a saint, and all that Tartuffe does. It is as if

Tartuffe can do no wrong. When Orgon's son Damis tells

his father what he has overheard and that Tartuffe was

making advances toward Elmire. Orgon is so upset with

Damis, that he disowns his son, and exiles his son from the

house and the property. Because of this passion Orgon is

stupid and blind to all that is going on around him. Despite

the protestations of his sensible brother-in-law Cleante and

his son Damis, Orgon determines that his daughter

Mariane, who is in love with a young man named Valere,

shall marry Tartuffe. When Orgon's wife Elmire seeks out

Tartuffe to beg him to refuse Mariane's hand, he attempts

to seduce her. It is at this point that Elmire decides that the

truth can only be exposed through lies. And she wants to

prove to her husband what Tartuffe is really like. Only

when his wife Elmire convinces him to hide under the table

and hear Tartuffe's advances towards her, does the reality

finally confront Orgon's idealism and Tartuffe is unmasked.

Orgon's eyes are opened, a little too late. For he has

already assigned all he owns to Tartuffe. When Tartuffe

realizes his hypocrisy has been discovered, he promptly

turns the family out of the house. Then by reporting to the

authorities that Orgon possesses a strongbox containing the

papers of an exiled friend, Tartuffe tries to have his former

host arrested. Elmire, feels that the people will be outraged

by what has happened to them and their family, and they

will bring justice to Tartuffe. But by order of the King, the

arresting officer apprehends Tartuffe instead, and the

imposter is hauled off to prison for...
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