Tartuffe is one of the most famous comedies written by the French playwright Molière. The play tells the story of a wealthy Frenchman named Orgon who takes in Tartuffe, a man who presents himself to be religious and passionate but actually turns out to be a hypocrite. Despite his family’s warnings, Orgon completely turns his back on his family in order to protect Tartuffe, who betrays him. During that time the play was first written and performed, many people, along with King Louis XIV himself, enjoyed the play. However, to others it was seen as being critical of religion and the church, which then lead to it being banned. In a political sense, Tartuffe serves as both an endorsement and critique of the ideas of absolutism, divine right, and the patriarchal family.
The story takes place in France during the mid-1600s. Everyone in the family except for Orgon and his mother Madame Pernelle believe that Tartuffe, a man they took in, is a hypocritical fraud. Orgon privately reveals to his daughter Marianne that he wants her to marry Tartuffe. Marianne’s brother Damis learns of his father’s plans and becomes furious. Tartuffe and Elmire (Orgon’s wife) meet up to talk, and Damis hides to eavesdrop. Astonishingly, Tartuffe begins to admit feelings for Elmire and tries to seduce her. Elmire rejects him and then tries to make a deal with him: if he backs out of the marriage with Marianne, she will not inform Orgon of what happened. Just as Tartuffe agrees to this, Damis comes out of hiding and confronts Tartuffe of his wrongdoing. Orgon then walks into the room, and Damis tells him what happened. However, due to his fondness for Tartuffe, Orgon does not believe him! Orgon then goes as far as to disinherit Damis and make Tartuffe his sole h...
... middle of paper ...
...gracious and forgiving King, the whole family would have lost everything.
While Molière satirically criticized and warned against certain aspects of absolutism, divine right, and the patriarchal family, it was also evident that he supported them and did not believe in alternative ways that matters should be handled. He simply recognizes that in order for the kingdom to be conducted under these policies, rulers (both the King and heads of the household) had to be careful and wise in their decision-making to avoid corruption. Molière definitely makes some good points, and even though it was banned for a period of time, Tartuffe remains one of his most famous works.
Cole, Joshua, Judith G. Coffin, Carol Symes, and Robert Stacey. Western Civilizations: Their History & Their Culture. Brief Third ed. Vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. Print.