Essay, Research Paper: Tartuffe By Moliere


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Moliere’s neoclassic comedy, Tartuffe, is a prime example of his expertise in
the comedic technique. The plot is one that keeps the reader or viewer
interested and aware. It begins with Madame Pernell visiting her son’s house
and reprimanding all of them but their boarder, Tartuffe. She believes Tartuffe
is a man of astounding character. The members of the house, however, disagree
and say that Tartuffe is deceitful and a fraud. After Madam Pernell leaves,
Dorine and Cleante, the maid and the brother-in-law of the main character, Orgon,
discuss Tartuffe and both agree that he has captivated Orgon. Damis, Orgon’s
son, wonders whether his father will allow Mariane, Orgon’s daughter, to marry
Valere, who she is in love with, because Damis is in love with Valere’s
sister. Orgon comes and tells Mariane that he wants her to marry Tartuffe
instead of Valere because he wants to ally Tartuffe to his house. She is so
shocked that she does not say anything. Cleante tries to tell Orgon about
Tartuffe’s misleading personality, but Orgon does not want to hear it. Valere
finds out about this proposed marriage, and Dorine promises to help Mariane and
Cleante expose Tartuffe for the hypocrite he is. Meanwhile, Damis has a plan to
hide in a closet to try to expose Tartuffe’s hypocrisy. He hears Tartuffe
profess love to Elmire, Orgon’s wife, and suggests that they become lovers.
Damis comes from the closet and threatens to tell Orgon what he has said. Damis
then tells Orgon, and Orgon is so blind to the truth, that he believes his own
son is evil and disinherits him. Later, when Orgon and Tartuffe are alone, Orgon
tells Tartuffe of his plans to make him his sole inheritor and his son-in-law.
After this, Cleante tries to talk to Orgon about Tartuffe and he confronts
Tartuffe in front of Orgon. Tartuffe just dodges the questions, though, and
leaves as soon as possible. Elmire then convinces Orgon to hide and find out for
himself about Tartuffe, so he does so. Tartuffe comes to see Elmire and once
again professes his love. Orgon hears it all, comes from the closet, and bans
Tartuffe from his house. Orgon, however, has already signed over his house to
Tartuffe and Tartuffe threatens him with this. Orgon is afraid because he has
given Tartuffe some secret papers that could ruin his position in the court.
Tartuffe comes back later with officers of the court to try to get Orgon’s
house, but the king has seen through Tartuffe and sides with Orgon. Tartuffe is
ordered to be arrested and the story ends. This production seems to be about the
blindness of Orgon and how easily a person can deceive another. Tartuffe has
fooled nobody but Orgon – the man who has the power and wealth in this
situation. The characters in this play all play a certain role in the plot.
Elmire, Orgon’s wife, presents a reasonable attitude towards life and the
situation. She was the only one able to convince Orgon to see for himself that
Tartuffe was a hypocrite. She wants nothing but to save her husband from
Tartuffe’s control. Damis, Orgon’s son, is the unlucky soul to take the
blame for his father’s misjudgment of Tartuffe. In trying to help his father,
he loses his trust and his ties to him. He wants to keep Tartuffe away from his
family, but the only thing he succeeds in doing is losing his inheritance.
Mariane is the lovely daughter, who is going to be forced to marry a man she
does not love or even like. She is part of Orgon’s plan to make Tartuffe a
member of the household, whether she likes it or not. She just wants to marry
the man she loves. Cleante is Orgon’s brother-in law. He tries to get everyone
to view the situation with calm and reason. He wants the best for Orgon and his
family. Tartuffe is the imposter who weasels his way into Orgon’s inheritance
and then betrays him. He is only looking for the money and is a very greedy man.
Orgon is the central character that comes under the influence of Tartuffe. His
only want seems to be to make Tartuffe an ally to his house. He is blind to the
real situation and seems to have no common sense and no trust in his family and
what they are telling him. He is duped by Tartuffe, and is only saved by those
he would not listen to before. He is a complex man who makes the story what it
is. Tartuffe is a man of deceit and lust. He lusts for money and this is what
becomes his final downfall. He is the villain of the production, which is
obvious to both the audience and those in the story, except for Orgon and Madam
Pernell. He is a master of disguising his true self. As a religious devotee, he
convinces Orgon and Madam Pernell that he is a pious and humble man. He is a
superior in the fact that he can recognize his victims weaknesses and play on
them. He exploits these flaws for his own advantages. Tartuffe is far from a
simple man. He is very alert and uses all methods possible to reach his goal. In
the production we watched the actor playing Tartuffe brought these
characteristics to life. He was very successful in portraying the extreme
insincerity of Tartuffe. His behavior portrayed one who betrays. There was such
a complete change in attitude and behavior when he would be with someone such as
Cleante than when he was with Orgon. His voice would become more sincere
sounding (even though we know it truly was not) and he would soften his whole
personality when he was with Orgon. I found it remarkable how accurately he
portrayed Tartuffe. I believe he was extremely successful in bringing
Tartuffe’s character to life.
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