The Voice of Reason in Tartuffe by Jean-Baptiste Poquelin Moliere

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Jean-Baptiste Poquelin Moliere wrote Tartuffe during the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment. One of the main characteristics of the Age of Enlightenment was a push towards using reason over emotions to make decisions. The leaders of the enlightenment truly believed that the world could be made a better place if people did this. In Tartuffe, when the characters use their emotions to make their decisions they find themselves in undesirable situations. While those who let their emotions rule them find their lives spinning out of control, there are other characters in the play who try to approach them with reason and logic. Out of these characters the lady’s maid Dorine stands out as the voice of reason. There are several stock characters in Tartuffe, but Dorine is not one of them. Servants are expected to be submissive and silent, but Dorine is stubborn and outspoken. She often uses sarcasm and satire to make her point. She is repeatedly chastised by Orgon and Madame Pernelle for her loose tongue. In Critical Essay on Tartuffe author David Partikian describes her character by writing, “… Dorine, has a saucy tongue, she is constantly told to shut up, and on one occasion, Orgon even tries to slap her.”(David Partikian 1) While Dorine’s voice stands out more than the others, she is not the only character that uses reason. Cleante’s character for example, is very reasonable and well educated. In fact most would recognize him as the voice of reason, but his advice often comes across as a boring lecture. The reader can easily become lost in his drawn out pleas for Orgon to see the truth about Tartuffe. Elmire’s character also has control over her emotions, but her character does not speak out against irrationality as strongly as Dorine’... ... middle of paper ... ...es to put an end to the foolishness that is caused by the other characters emotions and folly. She speaks out against the absurd, she fights for reason, and she is a character that other characters turn to for advice. Dorine is Moliere’s voice of reason in Tartuffe. Works Cited Moliere, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin. "Tartuffe." The Norton Anthology Western Literature. 8th ed. Eds. Sarah Lawall et al. Vol 2. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2006. 19-67. Print. Partikian, David. "Critical Essay on Tartuffe." Drama for Students. Ed. David A. Galens. Vol. 18. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 25 Jan. 2014. Zwillenberg, Myrna Kogan. "Dramatic Justice in Tartuffe." Modern Language Notes 90.4 (Apr. 1975): 583-590. Rpt. in Drama Criticism. Ed. Linda Pavlovski. Vol. 13. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Literature Resource Center. Web. 25 Jan. 2014. .

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