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The Religious Attacks Made by "Tartuffe"

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 06:29 AM
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Moliere (whose real name was Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) rocked the 17th century French world with


his comedy "Tartuffe" in 1664.   Although, religious factions kept the play banned from theatres from


1664-1669, "Tartuffe" emerged from the controversy as one of the all-time great comedies.


Tartuffe is a convincing religious hypocrite.   He is a parasite who is sucking Orgon, the rich


trusting father, for all he is worth.   Orgon does not realize that Tartuffe is a phony, and caters to his


every whim.   For instance, he reneges on his promise to let his daughter Mariane, marry Valere.   Instead


he demands that she wed Tartuffe, whom she despises.   He also banishes his own son, Damis,   from his


house for speaking out against Tartuffe and all of his son's inheritance is promised to Tartuffe.  


Tartuffe is nothing more than a traveling confidence man who veils his true wickedness with a


mask of piety.   Orgon and his mother Madame Pernelle are completely taken in by this charade.   On the


other hand, Cleante, Elmire, and Dorine see Tartuffe for the fake that he really is.   Cleante is Orgon's


wise brother who speaks


elegantly about Tartuffe's hypocrisy.   Through Cleante, Moliere most plainly reveals his theme.


Spare me your warnings, Brother; I have no fear


Of speaking out, for you and Heaven to hear,


Against affected zeal and pious knavery.


There's true and false in piety, as in bravery,


And just as those whose courage shines the most


In battle, are least inclined to boast,


So those whose hearts are truly pure and lowly


Don't make a flashy show of being holy   (Meyer 1466).


In speeches such as these, Moliere wanted to get across the fact that it was false piety he was


condemning and not religion in general.   In the preface to the play, which Moliere himself wrote, he


bluntly states this.   " If one takes the...

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