The Book of Genesis and Tartuffe, by Jean-Baptiste Moliere

The Book of Genesis and Tartuffe, by Jean-Baptiste Moliere

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The book of Genesis most people think of it as the story of how the world was created, but a lot of people do not think of as a story of justice, loyalty, and family. When people read the play of Tartuffe written by Jean-Baptiste Moliere most they often think of it as trying to expose religious hypocrisy. Often people overlook the play telling us about justice, loyalty, and family just as the book of Genesis does. These two literary works share these themes in common and the way they tell us and show about them are two very different ways.
A true test of loyalty is the story of Noah when God told him to build an arch. This was a larger challenge than many people think because it had not rained on the earth so nobody knew what rain is. So Noah build the arc after God told him:
And God said to Noah, I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with Violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. (Bible Genesis6:13-14)
That was the commandment God gave Noah, and God was counting on Noah’s loyalty to build the arc. Once Noah finished building it God told him to get seven pairs of ‘all clean animals’ the male and there mate, and an extra pair of the animals that are not clean. After Noah had done of this and he got on to the arc he was 600 years old. He had proven his faithfulness to God so he let him live.
In the book of Genesis we see God testing Adam and Eve’s loyalty to him by commanding them “you shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die” (Bible Genesis3:3). Being steadfast to God isn’t always easy he puts us through trials and tribulations to test us and see if we stay faithful to him no matter what is going on in our lives. His test can be something as simple as not eating from a tree to having to move across the country and leave your loved one back home and stay faithful to them.

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The challenge comes when Satan tries to make you do things that are not pleasing to God. The perfect example is when Satan came disguised as a serpent, and he tried to convince Eve into eating from the tree. Satan successfully convinced both Adam and Eve into eating from that tree so at that moment Adam and Eve both failed there test of devotion to God. Just as Adam and Eve didn’t have the greatest commitment most of the characters of Tartuffe struggle with their loyalty.
In Tartuffe most of the characters have very little loyalty to each other and in all actuality most of them don’t have any at all. The charter that seems to be least resolute is Orgon, but the same cannot be said for his family they appear to be the most devoted people in the play. An example of how treacherous Orgon is when he broke his promise to daughter Mariane that she could marry her true love Dorine and tries to make her marry Tartuffe. He made her think that if doesn’t say “He is this perfect man in every way, whom in body and soul, I find him divine.” And then you say, “please, father, make him mine.” (Tartuffe 2.1:18-20). Then she doesn’t love her father. By getting Mariane to say these things about Tartuffe that would allow her to marry him instead of marring her love Dorine. Orgon was a great example of this plays traitorous characters while the rest of the family is the complete opposite of him. Throughout the entire play they stay steadfast to him even when he was treating them like complete trash. In the end they are all saved because of their loyalty to Orgon.
In both Tartuffe and the book of Genesis we see a family dynamic that isn’t the greatest. Like in Tartuffe Orgon’s actions throughout the play threatens to ruin the household.
With every act there must either be punishment or a reward, but when one sins the justice can be quite great and powerful or long and painful. In many of the chapters of Genesis it tells of great punishments because of the sinful actions people were making. Like when Eve ate the fruit off the forbidden tree God told her “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Bible Genesis3:16). By God making this Eve’s punishment she will now have great pain while in childbirth, and she will now always want to oppose Adam and will always try to assert leadership over him.
We see later when Cain kills Abel because he was mad God selected Abel’s offering over his. God gave Cain the chance to speak the truth but he lied so God’s penalty was long and painful. He is punished by God cursing him “when you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wander on the earth” (Bible Genesis4:12). God cursed him to never being able to farm and have good crops ever again because he spilled his brother’s blood on ground the ground shall be cursed for him. Not only that but he told him he shall be a wander on the Earth meaning that he will be alienated from the rest of the humans. You can never escape the justice of God because he can always see you and know what you are thinking. God proved that to us when Cain tried to lie about what happened to his brother.
Throughout Tartuffe a large theme of the play is justice or to be more accurate injustice. A major wrongdoing that Orgon does is disinheriting his son Damis. Orgon say to his son “Get out of my sight! I disinherit you, you traitor, you’re a blight on this house. And you’ll get nothing now from me, except my curse!” (Tartuffe 3.6:77-80). Orgon does this after Damis tries to tell him that Tartuffe disrespected his house by flirting with his wife. At this time Orgons mind is still clouded because he likes Tartuffe so much he doesn’t believe him even after Tartuffe admits to his sinful actions with his wife. Another obvious transgression is when he forced his daughter into a loveless marriage with Tartuffe.
At the end of the play the injustice is corrected once Orgon finally clears his head he realizes that his trespasses can no longer be controlled by him anymore. The only way he can stop what he has done is by a larger justice like the king. In the end Tartuffe gets arrested and put in jail with no bond. The Exempt who is the Kings officer tells Orgon the king says “Everything this scoundrel took, the deed, all documents, this locked box of yours and all its contents, and nullifies the contract giving away your property, effective today” (Tartuffe 5.7:78-82). The king does this because Tartuffe tricked Orgon into giving him all his documents and property, and because Tartuffe lied to the king by making false accusation against Orgon. The king’s final words to Orgon were “in spite of the laws, you openly defended our king’s right to his throne. And you were prepared to fight. From his heart, and becomes it makes good sense that a good deed deserves recompense, he pardons you” (Tartuffe 5.7:86-91). The king does this because Orgon showed didn’t care what he had to do to protect the kings right and that showed great loyalty to the king. So after everything that has happened the injustice was finally corrected and everybody got the justice they deserved.



Works Cited

ESV: Study Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2007. Print.
Molière, and Richard Wilbur. Tartuffe; Comedy in Five Acts, 1669. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963. Print.

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