Tartuffe by Jean-Baptiste Polquelin Moliere

Tartuffe by Jean-Baptiste Polquelin Moliere

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Tartuffe by Jean-Baptiste Polquelin Moliere

In the neoclassical comedy Tartuffe, written by Jean-Baptiste Polquelin Moliere,
Tartuffe is illustrated as a disreputable character who has posed as a religious ascetic.
Orgon, the master of the house, is convinced Tartuffe is a humble and pious man despite
the rest of his families claims. Yet, in Act IV, scene seven the impostor Tartuffe is finally
exposed for the fraud he really is.
Scene 7
Tartuffe, Elmire, Orgon
Madam, all things have worked out to perfection;
I’ve given the neighboring rooms a full inspection;
No one’s about: and now I may at last...
ORGON [Intercepting him] Hold on, my passionate fellow, not so fast!
I should advise a little more restraint.
Well, so you thought you’d fool me, my dear saint!
How soon you wearied of the saintly life-
Wedding my daughter, and coveting my wife!
I’ve long suspected you, and had a feeling
That soon I’d catch you at your double dealing.
Just now, you’ve given me evidence galore;
It’s quite enough; I have no wish for more.
ELMIRE [to TARTUFFE] I’m sorry to have treated you so slyly,
but circumstances forced me to be wily.
TARTUFFE Brother, you can’t think...
ORGON No more talk from you;
Just leave this household, without more ado.
TARTUFFE What I intended...
ORGON That seems fairly clear.
Spare me your falsehoods and get out of here.
TARTUFFE No, I’m the master, and you’re the one to go!
This house belongs to me, I’ll have you know,
And I shall show you that you can’t hurt me
By this contemptible conspiracy,
That those who cross me know not what they do,
And that I’ve means to expose and punish you,
Avenge offended Heaven, and make you grieve
That ever you dared order me to leave.

Scene seven of ACT IV represents the climax and drastic turn of events, where
Tartuffe is unmasked then once again gains the upperhand as the new master of the house.
In previous scenes, Tartuffe had been acquitted by Orgon of being anything short of a
Saint. The family had grown tired of Orgon’s blindness and Elmire had prepared for the

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restoration of her husband’s sight with a scheme to catch the scoundrel in his lies.
Ultimately the outcome remains with Tartuffe in control using the deed and mysterious
box as his position of power.
In an earlier scene Elmire devises a way to expose the hypocrite to Orgon. She
persuades Orgon to conceal himself under a table while she speaks to Tartuffe, and her
husband is thus a witness to the impostor's hypocrisy in all of its glory. What follows is a
“contemptible conspiracy” to catch Tartuffe and prove his deception. Elmire trying to
satisfy her husbands need for proof sets a trap for the lustful Tartuffe luring him by falsely
proclaiming her love for him. Tartuffe at first is tentative and confused by her sudden
change of heart, yet Elmire reveals the nature of women and explains her jealousy of his
plans to marry Mariane. Nevertheless Tartuffe advances further upon Elmire and even
goes as far as to call the eavesdropping Orgon gullible saying that he is a blind fool, and
that if Elmire kept their affair a secret, then it wouldn't be a sin. With this Elmire asks
Tartuffe to check for spies while Orgon emerges from under the table. With Tartuffe’s
return Orgon has waited and heard enough proof to confront the impostor.
The passage of ACT IV Scene seven is crucial in linking the entire story together.
It is the revelation that the audience has been waiting for and sets the mood for the fifth
and final act. The new situation that has arisen is a certain cause for alarm. Orgon and
his family are troubled by Tartuffe’s potential to displace them with the deed and display
the incriminating papers within the strong box.
In scenes following the passage Orgon, Elmire, and Cleante, the voice of reason,
discuss their dilemma which has come about due to Orgon’s blindness. Orgon has now
seen both sides of his extreme spectrum. He went from loving Tartuffe as a pious and
charitable man to now cursing the entire brotherhood. Obviously there is no dealing in
moderation for Orgon. In scene 6 Elmire warns Orgon’s fury is “premature” but again he
is deaf and blind to his family’s words of advice. His haste causes Tartuffe to react
defensively and with violent overtones. With a little moderation and words of reason,
Orgon may have been able to escape with his home and freedom in tact. Yet, his family
stays loyal. Cleante tries to console and counsel Orgon telling him that there is true piety
and not all men are deceivers. He basically explains that moderation and rationality is key
in trusting people as well as life in general.
In the passage we the audience are finally amused by the confrontation of Tartuffe
locking horns with his own hypocrisy. We see Orgon interrupt Tartuffe’s efforts to
pursue Elmire and state his displeasure. Then in the same scolding breath Orgon goes
about saying, “I’ve long suspected you, and had a feeling That soon I’d catch you at your
double dealing. Just now, you’ve given me evidence galore.”
This statement is totally ridiculous, Orgon considered Tartuffe to be a saint and would
have sacrificed a family member for him and did, banishing his very own son Damis. The
remark holds no truth; it only indicates how ignorant and stubborn Orgon really is and
that nothing has changed in him through the course of this enlightenment. In addition to
the fallacy of this statement if Orgon had suspected Tartuffe in the least what possessed
him to hand over the deed and strong box so easily? Nonetheless Orgon attempts to put
an end to Tartuffe’s con game, “It’s quite enough; I have no wish for more.”
Even though Elmire wanted to expose Tartuffe to her husband and seems to
dislike Tartuffe she remains polite, even apologetic. As we saw earlier in scene 3 & 4 of
ACT III she doesn’t tell her husband of Tartuffe’s initial advances and reprimands Damis
for his being deservingly coarse to Tartuffe. Her comment to Tartuffe, “I’m sorry to have
treated you slyly, but circumstances forced me to be wily.” shows her compassion and
sensibility which cannot be said for Orgon. Even though she knows nothing of what
Tartuffe has in his possession she does not use “angry chatter” to cause further damage to
an already tense situation. Yet, Orgon has other ideas. Orgon doesn’t wish to hear
anything else from his former humble companion, “No more talk from you; Just leave
this household, without more ado.” The only reason he does not allow Tartuffe to
explain himself as he did before when Damis and Elmire stated their claim is because this
time Orgon himself has been insulted and not because of Tartuffes attempts to “covet his
wife.” Orgon would have sat underneath the table the entire time allowing his wife to be
compromised, but he only makes himself known after he is offended. Here again we see
the serious character flaws within Orgon.
In the closing moments of the scene Orgon makes his final demand of Tartuffe,
“Spare me your falsehoods and get out of here.” But, Tartuffe has a different plan and
explains his new position, “No, I’m the master, and you’re the one to go!” At this point
Orgon’s pure stupidity is revealed; his arrogance and stubbornness has come back to
haunt him.
At this point Tartuffe is upset with the unveiling that has shown his hypocrisy and
has decided to take total control,

“...this house belongs to me, I’ll have you know,
And I shall show you that you can’t hurt me
By this contemptible conspiracy,
That those who cross me know not what they do,
And that I’ve means to expose and punish you,
Avenge offended Heaven, and make you grieve
That ever you dared order me to leave.”

Ironically though even after being exposed for a fraud he reverts to his religious
asceticism using references to “offending heaven.” He also makes a brief biblical
reference, “That those who cross me know not what they do.” This is similar to what
Jesus said when speaker to God during the Roman crucifixion saying, “Forgive them
Father for they know not what they do.” Yet, the deeper meaning is quite different.
Jesus’s statement was plea for forgiveness of the Roman people while Tartuffe’s
statement is trying to portray how powerful he is by his bid for revenge.
Tartuffe has exploited Orgon’s flaws and now holds the family’s fate in his hands.
Reality has finally confronted Orgon's idealism and he fears the villain will make public
the contents of the box as well as remove them from their home. As a result of Organ’s
fanatic devotion to the scheming Tartuffe he faces these horrible terms. Orgon’s eyes are
opened a little too late, for he has already assigned all he owns to Tartuffe. Then Tartuffe
taking vengeance reports to the authorities that Orgon possesses a strongbox containing
the papers of an exiled friend Argas, Tartuffe contrives to have his former host arrested.
But luckily by order of the King, the arresting officer apprehends Tartuffe instead, and the
impostor is hauled off to prison for his treacherous behavior toward his well-meaning if
too-credulous host. The play ends with the family intact, Damis reconciles with his father,
and the wedding of Mariane and Valere is announced.
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