Moliere's Tartuffe is a satire based on religious hypocrisy. Every character is essential in Tartuffe. All of the characters play an important role, but it is easy to say that Tartuffe and Orgon are the main characters. First, we must know the definition of satire. According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, satire is defined as "literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn" ("satire"). In other words, a satire is defined as literary work that uses humor to point out the foolishness of a person or just in human nature. Religious hypocrisy can be self-defined as a false assumption of a person. What follows are examples of how I believe Tartuffe exposes humor through religious hypocrisy.
In a class lecture, the professor pointed out that the word/name Tartuffe means hypocrite, which can easily be seen as the drama unfolds. Early in the story, the audience learns that Tartuffe has a sleazy talent to receive piety in Orgon's household. In Act I, it is implied that Orgon has offered his daughter's hand in for marriage to Tartuffe, although Damis, Orgon's son, believes that Tartuffe does not wish to do so. Damis states, "I think Tartuffe's against it, and that he's been urging Father to withdraw his blessing" (Tartuffe 1.2.8-9). At this point, it is obvious to see that Orgon has a lot of respect for Tartuffe, although others may think differently. Cleante, Orgon's brother in law, is shown as the voice of reason and questions Orgon by saying,
"There's a vast difference, so it seems to me, between true piety and hypocrisy: How do you fail to see it, may I ask? Is not a face quite different from a mask? Cannot sincerity and cunning art, reality an...
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...ot the others. Although Orgon was stubborn to his family and gullible to Tartuffe, Orgon was able to see the actions and hear the words himself. Orgon was in such disbelief that it had seemed that Tartuffe was going to get rid of Orgon's family. The King himself believed that Tartuffe was not being honest and did not trust him. In having those feelings, he seized the property from Tartuffe and granted it back to Orgon. Tartuffe shows us that although anyone can show us to be a strong believer; anyone is able to put up an act to achieve personal satisfaction. In this case, Tartuffe took advantage of being considered a saint, because no one would expect for someone in religion to do such a sin.
Moliere, Jean-Baptise Poquelin. 'Tartuffe.' The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Ed. Maynard Mack. New York: W.W. Norton " Company, 1995. 307 -356.
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