The Flawed Characters of Moliere's Tartuffe

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The Flawed Characters of Tartuffe To be perfect is to be inhuman. Human nature is complete with many flaws and imperfections, one of which is represented in the play "Tartuffe", by Moliere. “Tartuffe” was written specifically to show the reader a basic flaw in human nature. This flaw is shown through two characters, Madame Pernelle and Orgon. These two are blind to the truth concerning Tartuffe and fall victim to his wiles. The fact that these two are too weak to see the truth is a basic human flaw as well as a major theme of the play, represented through their flawed characters. If anything, Madame Pernelle and Orgon are incredibly gullible. One author suggests that this gullibility is a shared family trait, stating that “his mother shares his capacity for self-delusion even after Tartuffe has been found out (we cannot always judge by what we see)” (Weals). Orgon foolishly believes that Tartuffe is a man of God, and, because of this, he should put everything he has into Tartuffe's hands. He proves how much he believes this after Damis tells him that Tartuffe was flirting with Elmire. From this accusation Orgon replies to Damis: "I disinherit you; an empty purse / Is all you'll get from me - except my curse!" (III, vii , 68). Madame Pernelle shows the family trait that she shares with her son when she states: "He's a fine man, and should be listened to."(I, i ,44), while speaking of Tartuffe. Although they share this trait throughout the play, Orgon's eyes are finally opened at the end of the play while his mother is still held by the farce of Tartuffe. Although Tartuffe is portrayed as the main character of the play, Orgon is the character who should really be paid attention to the most. As suggested in an essay on "Tartuffe" audiences who concentrate on the character who titles the work may miss the author's point: "...vitriol and spleen vented on one man suggests that Moliere's satire of Orgon, nevermind Tartuffe, was steeped in truth." (Smaje). Orgon is the character who represents the weakness in human nature. This weakness is shown throughout the play. Orgon is so willing to entrust everything he has into the care of Tartuffe. He places Tartuffe above the well being of his family. When he returns from his trip and asks Cleante how the household was while he was gone, Cleante tells him that his wife had been very sick.

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