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Tartuffe By Moliere
Moliere speaks through his characters in Tartuffe to advocate specific values and behaviors that are the moral norms in the play. There are situations in the play where Moliere created a situation, which illustrated the absurdities of the person s actions and how they were totally in opposition to the generally accepted behavior of the society at large.

The comedy of the first scene is partly based on the overbearing and flustery Madame Pernelle who is dominating all conversation and forcing her own egotistical opinions on the others. The comedy is also based upon seeing this woman proven wrong. Moliere s technique in Tartuffe is to set up a character or characters that are deviations from the norm of behavior and gradually reveal their absurdity.

I had to ask myself How does Moliere do this? He does this first by subtitling his play The Hypocrite. From the subtitle alone, I know that Madame Pernelle is praising a man unworthy of praise.

Second, since there was only one person in Act I, Scene 1 who is holding the opinion that Tartuffe is a holy and pious man, people tend to side with the many and not the one. Third, the manner in which Madame Pernelle defends Tartuffe instantly makes me doubt her honesty and credibility. She is overbearing, talkative, and so superficial that I immediately defined her opinions as absurd.

Finally, when each person in Scene 1 is criticized for the minutest aspect of his behavior and when I know that Madame Pernelle s advice to the people is absurd, then I tend to doubt the validity of advice. She tells her grandson that he is a fool; she accuses her granddaughter of being secretive; she reprimands Elmire for dressing elaborately; she dislikes Cleante because he is filled with worldly counsel; the maid Dorine is too impudent. In other words, the entire world is wrong and only she and Tartuffe are right. To conclude, everyone in Act I, Scene I who seems normal and rational is against Tartuffe and the only person who worships him is a blustery and talkative old woman. I got a true sense of Tartuffe s true character.

The maid Dorine tries to reason with Madame Pernelle but it falls on deaf ears. Dorine says that if there is gossip, it comes from someone named Daphne who gossips about others in order to hide her own flaws. Dorine points out that Daphne was once a great flirt until she began to lose her beauty. She also reminds Madame Pernelle that as long as Daphne could attract people she was a great flirt, but now that she is not ravishing, she condemns others for the same vice she practiced.

As I previously stated, Madame Pernelle has no part of this. She insists the people should be proud to have such a virtuous man as Tartuffe living with them. Later, of course, she eats these words, and she will have to acknowledge that she has been deluded. It is clearly visible now that she is deceived. She has talked about the virtues of Tartuffe, but at the same time she has not demonstrated a single virtue of her own. This is seen especially in the crude manner in which she orders around her own servant.

In Act I, Scenes 2-3, the establishment of the influence that Tartuffe has over Organ is the main point. Cleante cannot understand how Tartuffe has totally deceived Madame Pernelle. Dorine points out that Orgon is even more deceived. She explains the many ways in which Tartuffe has already duped Orgon and the many tedious sermons that they all have to listen to constantly. Dorine explains that Orgon already loves Tartuffe more than mother, child, or wife. This statement characterizes the religious man who will give up all earthly ties in order to follow a saintly life. This idea at the time is not fully developed but it will be later on. In Act I, Scenes 2-3 though, the idea surely applies to Orgon because he shows no concern for the wishes of his own daughter in the next scenes.

Act I, Scene 4 leaves no doubt that Orgon is completely duped and is also blinded in his devotion to Tartuffe. Orgon shows no interest in his wife s condition; instead he inquires about Tartuffe. Dorine tells Orgon how content and well off Tartuffe is. Orgon then feels sympathetic for Tartuffe and ignores his wife s condition still. This indicates the extent of his folly. The lack of concern that Orgon shows verifies Dorine s earlier statement that Orgon does not care for his wife or children and could easily dispose of them in his attention to Tartuffe.

In Scene 5, Orgon s first attempted defense of Tartuffe reveals a great deal. He tries to explain exactly what virtues Tartuffe has. He can only stutter, He s a man a man who an excellent man. Obviously, Orgon is so influenced by Tartuffe that he has lost all ability to evaluate anything rational.

Orgon now begins to show cardinal principles of being a saint. He says that Tartuffe, has taught me to view this dunghill of a world with scorn. Many of his other expressions are also those which are admired in the saints of the church. The behavior of Orgon is revered when that same behavior is evinced by one of the church s saints. For example, a saint is a person who would despise the world and spend all of his time learning to reject the things of this world. Orgon also says that his soul has been freed from all earthly ties or loves. If someone in his family were to die, it would not matter to him. Again, the saint puts aside his earthly matters in favor of more spiritual matters.

Near the end of Scene 5, it is blatantly obvious of how bad Tartuffe duped Orgon. Tartuffe is using the outward acts of religion to appear religious. Cleante is trying to expose this to Orgon. Cleante suggests that the truly religious person has no desire to parade his holiness before the...
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Tartuffe By Moliere. EssayMania.com. Retrieved on 12 Oct, 2010 from