Auth orJean-BaptistePoquelin known by hisstage name Molièrewas a Frenchplaywright and actorwho is considered to beone of the greatestmasters of comedy inWestern literature.Molière was well suitedto begin a life in thetheatre. Thirteen yearsas an itinerant actor
Molière wrote Tartuffe, originallyentitled Tartuffe, ou lImposteur (Tartuffe theImposter) in 1664. In the play, Orgon, a wealthyParisian patriarch (male head of household) fallsunder the influence of a self-righteous hypocritenamed Tartuffe. Orgon becomes obsessed withTartuffe and the religious ideals the trickstersupposedly stands for. Molière was apparentlyvery fond of plot lines where a guy becomesobsessed with something. Many of his plays havesimilar plots. In Tartuffe, its religion; in LeBourgeois Gentilhomme (The BourgeoisGentleman), its social status; in LAvare (TheMiser), its money; in Le Malade Imaginaire (TheHypochondriac), its doctors, etc. In each case,
Tartuffe, by Moliere’s standard consideredit (quite possibly) his best-known play.The reasons behind the plays fame aresimple: it was scandalous. By1664, Molière was already a big name inFrench theater. That same year, KingLouis XIV had agreed to be the godfatherof Molières first son. Molières theatertroupe was called the Troupe du Roi.Thats The Kings Troupe. Major successseems to always cause lots of problems.
Tartuffe riled up Molières critics evenmore than his previous plays. At thetime, the Catholic Church was a majorpolitical power in France. As you mightimagine, a play about a hypocriticalcriminal masquerading as a holy mandidnt go over too well. The dévots, agroup of ultra-conservative Catholicnobility, were especially offended. And itdidnt help that Orgon, a member of the
"Tartuffe" (along with the noun tartuffery ) has entered into the dictionary in both English and French. A tartuffe, as you might expect, is a hypocrite, religious or otherwise; tartuffery is, well, acting like Tartuffe.
Orgon- the head of a prosperous family Tartuffe- a man who purports to be holy, but is really a fraud. Dorine-is Marianes maid. Shes also saucy, sassy, and streetwise. Shes always ready with a snappy comeback and some good advice. Cléante- Orgon’s Brother-in-law;both a wise man and a wise guy: hes a perceptive, learned, intellectual etc.. Elmire- Wife of Orgon. Mariane-is daddys little girl. She loves her
Damis- Son Of Orgon. Madame Pernelle- Mother of Orgon. Valère- Mariane’s fiancé Monsieur Loyal-is a bearer of bad news and a lackey for Tartuffe. Police Officer-The officer is responsible for arresting Tartuffe. More importantly, he acts as the mouthpiece for the King. Flipote- Madame Pernelles maid.
Theres a storm brewing at Orgonshouse. According to his mother, MadamePernelle, Orgons family has becomedecadent and depraved. Theyre unable tosee the greatness of Tartuffe, a beggarand holy man Orgon recently took in.According to the rest of Orgons family,Orgon has been "taken in." They thinkTartuffe is a hypocritical, self-righteouscon artist. When Orgon returns from the
When Orgon attempts to explain why Tartuffe issuch a great and admirable man, Cléante seesright through his brother-in-laws unsoundreasoning. Cléante asks Orgon about the rumoredpostponement of Marianes (Orgons daughter)wedding. Orgon confirms that it has indeed beenpostponed, but he will say nothing further.Cléante is rightfully concerned. Orgon callsMariane in for a chat. He wants to know how shefeels about Tartuffe. When she acts surprised, hetells her how shes supposed to feel: she respectshim, is fond of him, and will marry him. Mariane isspeechless, but luckily Dorine, a saucy
Once Orgon leaves, an irritated Dorinetells Mariane that she cant believe howweak she acts in front of her father.Although she is hard on Mariane, Dorineeventually relents and agrees to help thegirl. Valère, Marianes fiancé, enters. Hesheard the bad news about their weddingplans. Soon enough he and Mariane arearguing over nothing in particular. Dorinegets them to kiss and make up. The
When Damis, Orgons son, hears about hisfathers plan to marry Mariane to Tartuffe, heflips out and tells Dorine that hes going togive Tartuffe a knuckle sandwich. Dorine hasa better idea: shes arranged for a meetingbetween Tartuffe and Elmire, Orgons wife.Damis insists on watching, and spies on theconversation while hiding in a closet. Duringthe meeting, Tartuffe makes a ratherawkward attempt to seduce Elmire. When hefails, Elmire strikes a deal with him. If herefuses to marry Mariane, she says, shewont tell Orgon about what just happened.
Cléante attempts to reason with Tartuffeand get him to give Damis a secondchance, but Tartuffe refuses. All thewhile, things get worse: Mariane can nolonger bear the stress of her impendingmarriage. When Orgon appears, marriagecontract in hand, Mariane, Dorine, andElmire plead with him. Though he haspangs of conscience, he stands firm.Elmire takes matters into her own
When Tartuffe arrives, she does her best to "seduce" him. He is skeptical of the whole situation, given the quick about-face, and demands that she give him some concrete sign of her affection. Elmire becomes increasingly antsy, and eventually asks Tartuffe to step outside the room and look to make sure her husband – Orgon – isnt around. When he does, Orgon pops out from under the table, enraged. Elmire tries to get him to hide again, in order that he might watch more and really
As it turns out, not only does Tartuffe havethe rights to Orgons property, he also has anumber of documents that, if they were tocome to the attention of the King, could getOrgon in serious trouble. Damisreturns, ready to fight Tartuffe – literally –but hes interrupted by Madame Pernelle.She cant believe the rumors shes heardabout Tartuffe. Orgonattempts, unsuccessfully, to convinceher, and only becomes frustrated in theprocess. Their argument is cut short by thearrival of Monsieur Loyal, a messenger sentby Tartuffe. He serves Orgon with a notice of
Orgon is just about to leave withValère, when Tartuffe showsup, accompanied by a police officer. He tellsOrgon what he already knows and, afterbeing insulted, tells the officer to arrestOrgon. The officer arrests Tartuffeinstead, telling Orgon that the King sawthrough Tartuffes scheme immediately.Turns out, Tartuffe is also a well-knowncriminal. Orgon is pardoned by the King, onaccount of his loyalty and prior aid to the
Initial Situation Orgon, the head of a prosperous family, has taken in and been taken in by Tartuffe, a man who purports to be holy, but is really a fraud. Orgon and his mother are the only ones to have fallen under the tricksters spell – the rest of Orgons relatives, including his wife and brother-in-law, see right through Tartuffe.
Conflict Orgon tells his daughter Mariane that she will be marrying Tartuffe instead of Valère, her longtime fiancé.
Complication Tartuffe attempts to seduce Orgons wife, Elmire. Elmire shuts him down, then makes a deal with him: if hell convince Orgon to let Mariane marry Valère, she wont tell Orgon about the incident. When Damis decides to tell Orgon what happened, Orgon refuses to believe him – and disinherits him instead. Tartuffe is
Climax Elmire decides that Orgon needs to be shown the truth as quickly as possible. She makes Orgon hide under a table while she "seduces" Tartuffe. Orgon is horrified by what he sees and confronts Tartuffe.
Suspense Tartuffe vows to get back at Orgon. He leaves quickly. Orgon realizes hes in quite a pickle. Hes already signed over all his possessions to Tartuffe, and, to top it all off, the swindler has run off with some incriminating documents.
Denouement We hear that the documents Tartuffe has gotten off with could land Orgon in jail. Tartuffes representative, Monsieur Loyal, shows up and tells Orgon that hes being evicted and will have to leave the house by the next morning. Valère rides in and convinces Orgon to flee the country immediately; hes made preparations for
Conclusion Tartuffe shows up, policeman in tow, to arrest Orgon. Hes shown the damning documents to the King. The policeman arrests Tartuffe instead, and explains that the wise King could see through Tartuffes ruse instantly. Orgon is given back his property and absolved of any wrongdoing, Tartuffe is taken away, and
Hypocrisy Hypocrisy is a slippery thing. To some, its obvious: Tartuffe is called a hypocrite pretty much right off the bat. The more were told about him, the more noticeable his hypocrisy becomes. At the same time, hypocrisy goes hand in hand with deception; it represents an effort to project a false image. Its a hard act to pull off, and Tartuffe doesnt do a particularly good job of it, but he still
"Y o u s e e h i m a s a s a i n t . I m f a r l e s s a we d ;I n f a c t , I s e e r i g h t t h r o u g h h i m . H e s a f r a u d .“ --D o r i n e
Foolishness and Folly Orgon may be the king of fools in Tartuffe, but hes not the only one thats off his rocker. As Dorine points out, Mariane and Valère are suffering from a bit of what the French call lamour fou (mad love). And, indeed, Tartuffes undoing is his own foolish love for Elmire. Unfortunately for just about everyone involved, this kind of folly is catching; more often than not, the fool is under the
Cléante: "M y , w h a t a s c e n e s h e ma d e , a n d w h a t a d i n ! A n d h o w t h i s ma n Ta r t u f f e h a s t a k e n h e r i n !" Do r i n e : "H e r s o n i s w o r s e d e c e i v e d ; H i s f o l l y mu s t b e s e e n
Religion Religion was a touchy subject back in Molières day…but Molière himself didnt seem to have any qualms with making some jokes about it. The thing is, Molières play Tartuffe doesnt make fun of religion: it makes fun of those who manipulate religion to get what they want – like, you know, Tartuffe. Still its worth noting that there is no direct religious foil for Tartuffe; instead, Cléante has to do double duty as the voice of
Or g o n : "H e u s e d t o c o m e i n t o c h u r c h e a c h d a y A n d h u mb l y k n e e l n e a r b y , a n d s t a r t t o p r a y . H e d d r a w t h e e y e s o f e v e r y b o d y t h e r e By t h e d e e p f e r v o r o f h i s h e a r t f e l t p r a y e r ; H e d s i g h a n d w e e p , a n d s o me t i me s w i t h a s o u n d Of r a p t u r e h e wo u l d b e n d
Women and Femininity Considering Tartuffe was written in the 17th century, you might expect the female characters to be soft-spoken, demure, and generally pretty dull. But that couldnt be further from the truth – well, except in the case of Mariane; shes soft-spoken, demure, and generally pretty dull. But Elmire and Dorine – thats a whole different story. Each one defies
"Y o u r e m u c h t o o f r e e w i t h m o n e y , a n d I m d i s t r e s s e d To s e e y o u s o e l a b o r a t e l y d r e s s e d . Wh e n i t s o n e s h u s b a n d t h a t o n e a i ms t o p l e a s e , On e h a s n o n e e d f o r
Lies and Deceit Heres a question for you: should one always tell the truth under all circumstances? Molière seems to think not. Sure, Tartuffe is the one that does most of the lying, but what are we to make of, say, Elmire? Shes willing to lie and cover up the truth – twice – in order to manipulate and expose Tartuffe. It is important to remember that shegets results by lying, while Damis only creates
Ma d a me P e r n e l l e :"A n d y o u , h i ss i s t e r , s e e m s o p u r e ,So s h y , s oi n n o c e n t , a n d s od e mu r e .Bu t y o u k n o w wh a tt h e y s a y a b o u t s t i l lwa t e r s .
Morality and Ethics So, on one hand weve got Tartuffe. He acts like a moral authority while doing tons of immoral and unethical things: he lies, steals, blackmails, attempts to commit adultery…the list goes on and on. On the other hand, we have Cléante. He has a handle on these sorts of matters, and hes not afraid to share his opinions. He explains to Orgon why Tartuffe is full of lies, and he confronts Tartuffe
Ma d a me P e r n e l l e :"Wh a t h e r e p r o v e sd e s e r v e s r e p r o o f ,H e s o u t t o s a v e y o u rs o u l s , a n d a l l o f y o uMu s t l o v e h i m, a s mys o n wo u l d h a v e y o ud o ."
Marriage Marriage is many things in Tartuffe. Its political; that is, its just as much about making alliances as it is about love. It is about love, of course, but the workings of love are hampered throughout the play. Were told that marriage is ultimately decided by the father of the bride. Were also told, however, that a fathers mistake will cost him dearly, that the bonds of marriage are only as good as the match thats been made. All this is to say that
Ma r i a n e :"You cant mean, Father…"Or g o n :"Y e s , T a r t u f f e s h a l lbeAllied by marriage to this family,And hes to be your husband, is thatclear?Its a fathers privilege…"
Sin We hear some strange opinions about sin in Tartuffe. Madame Pernelle tells everyone that Tartuffe is the authority as far as sins concerned. Nobody listens of course…well, except for Orgon. Now, you may be wondering what separates "sin" from "morality and ethics." Truth is, theyre intimately related. But in this case, its a matter of specifics. Tartuffe manages to ignore so many real, Christian rules about proper behavior – even as hes
We find ourselves in Paris, inside the house of Orgon. Madame Pernelle, Orgons dear mama, is headed out the door, and fast. Shes sick of whats going on in her sons house. Everyone – meaning Elmire, Orgons second wife, Damis, his son, Mariane, his daughter, and Cléante, his brother-in-law – try their best to get her to chill out. Nothing, however, can stop the old lady from complaining and hating on anything and everything. It seems that Madame Pernelle is angry because her man Tartuffe gets no respect.
Each member of the family has their own strategy for convincing Madame Pernelle: Damis just sort of gets angry, Elmire pleads, Cléante appeals to her reason, and Dorine, well…Dorine is, as youd expect from a French maid, pretty saucy. None of this works, of course. Madame Pernelle tells them they should all be grateful to have Tartuffe bossing them around and telling them how to live. As far as shes concerned, hes pretty much the ultimate life coach.
Cléante and Dorine stay behind and discuss the situation. Cléante is amazed at how quickly Tartuffe has bamboozled Madame Pernelle. Dorine agrees, but shes even more afraid of the way hes tricking Orgon. Though he was once a wise and prudent advisor to the king, he seems to have gone a bit soft in the noggin. Now, she says, hes obsessed with Tartuffe and ignores
Elmire, Mariane, and Damis come back, looking worn out. Theyve been getting another lecture from Madame Pernelle. Elmire has seen Orgon coming, and she decides to head upstairs. Cléante agrees to have a chat with him, and promises to bring up the question of Marianes upcoming marriage to Valère – he wants to make sure he can marry Valères sister once all is said and done.
Orgon rolls in, having just come from a trip out of town. He proceeds to ignore Cléante. He wants to hear about whats happened to the family in the time since he left. Dorine tells him that Elmire has been sick with a fever, but all Orgon really wants to hear about is Tartuffe. Every time Dorine tells him anything about his wife – all about how shes felt sick and suffered – he says, "And Tartuffe?" Dorine tells him that hes been doing fine, eating, drinking and sleeping altogether too much for such a pious guy.
Now its time for the title bout between Cléante and Orgon. Cléante tells his brother-in-law that Dorine was disrespecting him – and with good reason. He asks him how he could fall for Tartuffes tricks. Orgon will hear none of this. He tells Cléante about how cool, how brilliant and humble Tartuffe is. Soon enough, Orgon promises, Cléante, will see the light. Oh, and Orgon also says that, thanks to Tartuffe and his most excellent teachings, he could lose his whole family, mother, children, brother and wife, and not feel a thing. Yuck. Cléante listens to Orgon babble on for a while, listens to him talk about his first encounter
He goes on to tell Cléante how Tartuffe helps to "keep an eye" on Elmire, and that hes a veritable sin detector. Heck, he wont even hurt a fly. Cléante, ever reasonable, cant believe what he hears. When Orgon accuses him of impiety, he flies off the handle – in the most reasonable way possible, of course – and tells Orgon what a dunce he is to believe in all of Tartuffes righteous clap-trap. Cléante makes it clear that hes no atheist – he simply knows the difference between truth and lies, real piety and hypocrisy. The difference between the two of them is, well, that Cléante isnt a gullible idiot. Cléante likes big, important terms like Nature and Reason and he, well, really likes to use them. A lot. He talks a lot. Orgon makes some sarcastic remarks about how wise
He lists some key virtues which all good, Christian men should demonstrate: humility, good intentions, a desire to do good works, sincerity, humility, humility and…humility. At this point, Orgon is sick to death of hearing Cléante lecture, and he asks if he can leave. Cléante lets him go, but quickly gets him to come back. He asks about the whole Mariane-Valère wedding thing, as per Damiss wishes. Orgon tells him that, yes, he gave them his blessing and set a date. Cléante asks if hes now postponed it. Orgon has, but he wont say why.
Orgon decides its time he had a little heart-to- heart with Mariane, but before the confab can begins, he checks the room for eavesdroppers. That done, he starts buttering her up, telling her how good a daughter she is. He goes on to say that in order to repay him for his love she should do what shes told. She, being the good daughter that she is, responds in the affirmative. Orgon pops the question, or, uh, a question: How do you like Tartuffe? Its the kind of thing you might have had your best bud do for you in Middle School – hes like Tartuffes wingman. Mariane doesnt really know what to say and, so, she tells Orgon that whatevers good for Daddys good for her. Unfortunately, Orgon wants her to marry Tartuffe.
Dorine shows up; Orgon accuses her of eavesdropping and tells her to buzz off. Dorine says to Orgon, that the gossip around town is that he wants to Mariane to marry Tartuffe, The maid says that the idea is so silly she has to laugh. Orgon cant believe that Dorine cant believe that he would want Mariane to marry Tartuffe. The more he tries to convince her the more she mocks him. She tells Mariane that its all just a hoax and that she shouldnt believe her father. Dorine finally drops the hoax thing and tells Orgon straight out that nobody can believe hes acting like such a twit. How could you have your daughter marry a man who claims to be so
Dorine tries another strategy. Wouldnt it be something of a strange match, she asks Orgon, considering that Mariane really doesnt like Tartuffe? Because, she says, when a bride doesnt like her groom, she usually cheats. Oh, and a father who gives her daughter to such a man will pay for his sins. Yeah, she really lays it on thick. Orgon cant believe what hes hearing from the servant-girl; he tells Mariane to ignore Dorine. Oh, and it turns out that Valère gambles and doesnt go to church too often. Orgon tries to convince Mariane that hes doing the right thing. Dorine continues to make fun of him and Tartuffe. She interrupts him again and again, until Orgon finally threatens to hit her.
Dorine criticizes Mariane for not taking a stand against her father. Mariane doesnt really have a good answer. Shes just used to doing what shes told; shes done it for so long. Dorine puts her on the spot. Do you love Valère, she asks, or dont you? Mariane is insulted for a bit, but then she tells Dorine how much she loves, really loves Valère, She says she would rather kill herself than marry Tartuffe. Dorine thinks this is just about the stupidest solution to the problem she can think of. She has no sympathy for that kind hopelessness. She tells Mariane to buck up.
Valère comes in, looking concerned. Hes heard that Mariane is supposed to marry Tartuffe now, and he wants some answers. Mariane gets him up to speed. When Valère asks Mariane what shes going to do, shes reluctant to tell him. Eventually, she says, she doesnt know what shes going to do. Valère, clearly annoyed, tells her to go ahead and marry Tartuffe. Mariane tells him that of course shell follow his advice. The two continue fighting – for no reason in particular – while Dorine watches.
Of course, when Mariane calls his bluff and tells him to get lost, Valère pretends not to hear her. At this point, Dorine has had enough, and she tells the both of them to get their acts together. She gets them to put aside their silly, totally made-up problems, at least long enough to discuss the whole Orgon-Tartuffe problem. Dorine tells Mariane to pretend to play along with her fathers plan, but to find anyway possible to delay the proceedings-- faking sick, seeing bad omens etc. Valère, on the other hand, has to go tell his friends whats up and try to get them to pressure
Damis is ready to kick the crap out of Tartuffe. The servant tries to calm him down and redirect his energy into some more productive enterprise like, maybe, talking to Elmire. Elmire, it seems, has some "power" over Tartuffe – power, no doubt, of the feminine persuasion – and thus might be the key to catching the scoundrel. Dorine has also gotten word that Tartuffe
Tartuffe enters, talking loudly to his servant Laurent, who is off-stage; hes going to go to the prison, he says, to give money to the prisoners. Dorine cant stand his pretentiousness. Tartuffe cant stand the sight of Dorines breasts, and he gives her a handkerchief to cover her bosom; he says the sight of it creates unclean thoughts – no doubt in his dirty mind. Dorine calls him out and says that she would feel nothing if hewere prancing around naked. Tartuffe doesnt want to listen to her jibes – and he doesnt have to; Dorine is on her way out. Elmire, she tells him, is headed downstairs to
Elmire enters. Tartuffe immediately showers her with blessings. She asks him to sit down. Tartuffe asks about her health, and tells her that he prayed and prayed for her…but that he didnt think his prayers were enough. Elmire thanks him for his concern and tells him not to worry. Still, Tartuffe does not stop. She tells him that theres an important matter shed like to discuss. Shes glad theres no one around to annoy them. Tartuffe is very glad to hear her say this… It seems hes prayed and prayed for the chance to be alone with her.
At this point, he starts trying to put the moves on her…but hes not very smooth. He takes her hand, but manages to pinch her. When he puts his hand on her knee – and is caught – he tells Elmire that he was only feeling the fine fabric. Elmire starts moving away from him, but he continues. He feels the lace on her collar and compliments its quality. Elmire ignores him and gets down to business. She asks him if the whole Tartuffe- Mariane wedding thing is true.
Tartuffe tries to tell her that a man of God can appreciate worldly beauty, and that its especially easy to see the magnificence of Gods creation in her. He confesses his love to Elmire, and tells her that his fate is in her hands. Elmire tells Tartuffe he should have thought a little longer before opening his trap. Tartuffe uses the whole "Im just a man, Im not an angel!" defense, and tells her that he simply couldnt refuse her charms. He promises her that everything will be one hundred percent secret, on the down-low. Elmire asks Tartuffe if, you know, he might be a
This is where things get a bit crazy. Damis jumps out of the closet – remember, hes been hiding in there the whole time – and contradicts Elmires promise. He wants to tell everyone about what a liar and a sleaze Tartuffe is; its the second best thing to punching him in the face. Elmire tries to do some damage control and convince Damis to keep his mouth shut; she wants to honor her promise and avoid upsetting Orgon. Damis cant imagine letting Tartuffe get off
When Orgon enters the room, Damis lets the cat out of the bag. He tells Orgon all about Tartuffes "adulterous offer," how Elmire was going to keep it a secret, and how he, Damis, just had to let Orgon know. Elmire defends her position, tells Damis that he should have kept silent, and leaves.
Orgon immediately asks Tartuffe if what Damis is saying is true. (Remember, the old hypocrite has been watching this whole thing unravel). Tartuffe tells Orgon that he is, in fact a bad guy, that hes awful, sinful, terrible, the worst person this side of Judas. He tells Orgon to believe what he has just been told, and to kick him to the curb, please. No, really. Orgon doesnt seem to hear what Tartuffe has said. He screams at Damis and calls him a liar. Damis cant believe it; he cant believe
He turns to Damis, kneels before him, and asks him to accuse him some more; he says that he deserves every last bit of punishment. Orgon comforts Tartuffe then turns and insults Damis. Damis tries to talk some sense into him. Orgon insults his son, asks Tartuffe to stand up, then insults him again. This cycle repeats itself a few times until Tartuffe finally falls to his knees again and asks Orgon to pardon Damis. Orgon is, of course, blown away by Tartuffes
Once Damiss out of the room, Tartuffe tells Orgon how awful Damis has made him feel. Orgon runs to the doorway through which Damis has just exited and shakes his fist, cursing his son some more. Tartuffe tells Orgon he simply has to leave, that hes caused too much trouble for everyone. Again, Tartuffe proves himself a master of reverse psychology…or maybe just proves that Orgon is a buffoon. Or both. Orgon talks Tartuffe into staying – as if he
When all that is settled, Tartuffe makes one more request: he tells Orgon that he simply must avoid Elmire, just in case, you know, something might happen. Orgon will hear nothing of the sort. He wants to get back at his mean, deceitful relatives. In order to do so, he tells Tartuffe to spend as much time as possible with his wife. He also decides to make him "his only son and heir"; he matters more, he tells Tartuffe, "than wife, child or kin" (3.7.21). Tartuffe is cool with the arrangement; as far
We find Cléante and Tartuffe having a conversation concerning the recent ruckus between Damis and Orgon. Cléante tells Tartuffe that the towns abuzz with rumors about the conflict, then lays down a hypothetical: Assuming that Damiss to blame, shouldnt Tartuffe, being a good Christian and all, forgive him and let him reclaim his inheritance? Tartuffe tells Cléante that he would love to patch things up with Damis, but at this point it really isnt possible; its just not in the divine cards. If he were to start acting
Tartuffe tells him that he has already forgiven Damis, but even so he doesnt have to live with the jerk who defamed him. But, Cléante asks, surely you didnt have to accept Damiss inheritance. Tartuffe insists he doesnt really care for earthly things; he just wants to, you know, make sure bad guys dont get their hands on it. Just like he watches over Elmire to make sure bad guys dont get their hands on her. Cléante counters; as far as he can see, Damis should at least be given the
Dorine, Mariane, and Elmire roll in looking concerned. It seems Mariane isnt taking the whole "marrying Tartuffe that evening" thing too well. She wants to do whatever she can to stop it from happening.
Orgon comes in and interrupts their brainstorming session before its even begun. He has the marriage contract in his hand and wants Mariane to sign it. Mariane pleads with her father, asking him not to force the marriage upon her. She tells him that shell hate her life. The girl says, that if Orgon insists she not marry Valère, the least he could do is not force her to marry Tartuffe. She alludes that if the marriage is forced on her she may take some unspecified "desperate course" (4.3.2). Orgon is moved a bit by her appeal, but he stands firm. Mariane goes on, telling him that he can give
Dorine attempts to get a word in, but shes denied. As is Cléante. Elmire steps into the fray and tells Orgon what a gullible dope he is. Orgon accuses her of being "partial" to Damis, implying that the whole thing was a ploy to discredit Tartuffe. If it were the real deal, he says, you should have been angrier. Elmire resents Orgons claims, and tells him that she prefers to play it cool. Shes not a catty prude, she tells him, but a classy broad. When Orgon still wont budge, Elmire tells
Elmire pulls up a table and tells Orgon to get underneath. Hes a little confused by the whole thing, but he eventually consents. Elmire warns him that things are going to get a little bit weird, a bit shocking maybe, but that its all an act. Shes going to do her best to encourage Tartuffe, to fan the flames of his lust, as it were. You have the right to stop things whenever
Tartuffe strolls into the room. Elmire gets right to the point…but not before telling Tartuffe to close the door and "look about for spies" (4.5.2). He apparently doesnt look very well, as he fails to find Orgon. Elmire tells Tartuffe that she only acted the way she did earlier in the day because she was caught off guard. Now that everything has blown over, she tells him, they can get busy without fear of interference. Tartuffe is justifiably confused by this turn of
Women, according to Elmire always act coy; even when they say no, or perhaps especially when they say no, they really mean yes. Would I have listened to your whole confession of love, she asks, if I didnt, you know, want you? Would I have asked you to convince Orgon to let Mariane marry Valère if I didnt want to keep you all for myself? Despite the persuasiveness of her arguments – at least compared to those of Tartuffe – the trickster is still wary of being tricked. He wont believe her, he says, until she demonstrates her love "somewhat more
When Elmire pulls the whole "Isnt this a sin?" card, Tartuffe promises that he can clear the whole thing up with the Man Upstairs. When she acts surprises, Tartuffe promises to teach her all his tricks, lets call it Hypocrisy 101. He also tells her that, if anything goes down, the fault will be his. This prompts Elmire to cough again. Tartuffe comments upon it and offers a piece of licorice to help her feel better. She declines. Tartuffe tries to reassure Elmire again, telling her that, really, no one will know about what happens. Elmire coughs again and then finally gives up. She tells Tartuffe that yes, clearly she has to "demonstrate" her love. Before anything
Orgon comes out from under the table. Hes fuming. He cant believe what a "monster" Tartuffe is (4.6.1). Elmire tells him to go back under the table and wait until hes completely sure of Tartuffes treachery. She tells him to hide again, but he can only just manage to hide behind Elmire when…
Tartuffe comes in, ready to go. Everything is clear. He does not see Orgon. Orgon comes out, guns blazing. Well, not literally. He starts chewing Tartuffe out, and claims to have "long suspected" him (4.7.2). It seems Tartuffe doesnt have a monopoly on lying. When Orgon tells Tartuffe to hit the road, Tartuffe turns the tables. Before running he declares, "This house belongs
Elmire is confused by this last remark; she asks Orgon what Tartuffe meant. Orgon, dolt that he is, has signed a "deed of gift," a document that transfers ownership of something to another party. In this case, that something, seems to be, well, everything. To top it all off, he fears that Tartuffe may have made off with something else very, very valuable that Orgon kept locked away.
At this point, Orgon is running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Cléante tries to calm him down. He asks him whats the matter. As it turns out, Orgons fears were confirmed. Tartuffe has made off with the contents of the "strongbox," also known as a safe. It seems that, long ago, Orgons friend Argas brought him the box just before he, that is, Argas, fled the country. As far as Orgon knows, the papers contained within would ruin Argass reputation if they were ever released. Theyre what you might call
Cléante doesnt understand why Tartuffe would even know about such things. Orgon, it seems, saw fit to let Tartuffe hold onto the box; he felt guilty about keeping such a secret. Cléante, usually quick with advice, has nothing to say. Orgon has really messed things up this time. Orgon curses Tartuffe and swears that hell never associate with "pious men" and that hell "persecute them worse than Satan could" (5.1.10). Cléante tells Orgon to stop talking such drivel and wise up. One bad apple doesnt spoil the barrel,
Damis enters; hes heard the bad news about Tartuffe, and hes ready to help…by killing him. Cléante tells him to cool his jets.
Madame Pernelle, Mariane, Elmire, and Dorine show up. Madame Pernelle cant believe the stuff shes been hearing. Orgon gets his mom up to speed on whats happened. He tells her how Tartuffe duped him, took his stuff, and tried to seduce his wife. Madame Pernelle still cant believe what shes hearing and she tells Orgon as much. Orgon is flabbergasted – he doesnt know how she cant see Tartuffe for what he is after hearing all that. Orgon and his mother argue for a while; she insists that Tartuffe is good, and that he, Orgon, doesnt have enough proof of his guilt. This is what some people call "getting a taste of your own medicine." Finally, Cléante tells them to cut it out. Tartuffe, they have to remember, is planning to take control of Orgons estate.
Monsieur Loyal enters. Hes looking for the master of the house. As it turns out, Loyal has been sent by Tartuffe. Before going to meet him, Orgon asks Cléante for some advice. Cléante tells him that he just needs to keep a cool head. When Loyal greets Orgon kindly, Orgon takes this as a sign of good will, and hopes Tartuffe is willing to compromise. Instead, Loyal serves him with a writ, a written court document, calling for the
Hotheaded Damis attempts to intervene, but hes talked down by Loyal. Loyal is sure that, with Orgons compliance, everything will go off without a hitch. He tries to appeal to Orgon, to remind him that he is a wise and "temperate" man, and tells him that he loves "all men of upright character." Orgon appeals to Loyal. Out of the kindness of his heart, Loyal agrees to give Orgon a reprieve…until the next day. Loyal will, he tells Orgon, need to spend the
Cléante steps in and tells Orgon to chill. Damis, of course, wants to kick his butt. And Dorine tells Loyal to his face that shed like to see him whacked with a stick. Loyal warns that he might have to take her in if she continues to act like that. Cléante tells Loyal to give him the paper and leave, which he does. Orgon curses him as he walks out the door.
Orgon turns to his mother and says, "I told you so." Of course now shes shocked by what shes seen. Dorine tells them all not to be so ungrateful (sarcasm alert!); after all, Tartuffes just trying to rid them of all the earthly things that are separating them from heaven. Orgon tells her to shut up. Cléante reminds everyone that they still dont have a plan. Elmire proposes that they let everybody
Just then, Valère shows up – and hes got even more bad news. Hes just had word that Tartuffe has denounced Orgon to the King and used the contents of the strongbox to back up his claims. He tells Orgon that he must flee the country immediately. Cléante states the obvious: Tartuffes done this to make sure he can seize Orgons estate without trouble. Valère urges Orgon to leave; hes got a
Tartuffe shows up, with a police office in tow. Hes got even worsenews for Orgon: hes headed to prison. Orgon curses Tartuffe and calls him a villain. Tartuffe pays no attention, saying that "those who serve Heaven must expect abuse" (5.7.3). He still hasnt given up his self- righteous act. Cléante and Dorine insult Tartuffe, then Mariane, then Orgon again. He doesnt care; even when Orgon reminds him that he saved him from poverty, Tartuffe merely says that his "first duty is to serve [his] King." He
Tartuffe pays no attention to this; he sics the police officer on Orgon. Plot twist! The officer turns around and arrests…Tartuffe. Tartuffe is, of course, blown away. The office turns to Orgon and explains himself. The King, it seems, is a little more with it than Orgon; he saw right through Tartuffes little scheme. Hes the kind of guy that Cléante would love: he knows true piety when he sees it, hes wise, and he has experience foiling these kind of liars. Oh, and as it turns out, this isnt the first time
The King also pardons Orgon for hiding the papers, on account of his loyal deeds in the late civil war. Orgon a war hero? Whodathunkit? Everyone breathes a sigh of relief and praises the Lord. Except for Orgon. He begins to chew out Tartuffe, but luckily Cléante intervenes before he can say anything too stupid. He reminds Orgon that Tartuffe is already going to suffer for what hes done. Hopefully, he says, Tartuffe can actually find God, become a good person, and maybe get out on parole. Youd be better off, he tells Orgon, thanking the King for his kindness.
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