Orgon's Obsession in Tartuffe by Moliere

Orgon's Obsession in Tartuffe by Moliere

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In Moliere's comedy, Tartuffe, the main focus of the play is not of Tartuffe, but of Orgon's blind infatuation with Tartuffe. It just so happens that the title character is the villain rather than the hero. Orgon is Moliere's representation of how a man can be so blind in his devotion to a belief that he cannot make accurate judgment as to the sincerity of others who would use that belief to deceive him. Tartuffe easily achieves total power over Orgon's actions because of his gullibility. However, as the play progresses, Orgon's view of Tartuffe changes and results in Tartuffes removal.
It is in the duality of Orgon, the believing subject, and Tartuffe, the manipulating hypocrite (or impostor), that Moliere takes his digs at the extremes of enthusiastic belief. Tartuffe plays the role of a man whose greedy actions are cloaked by a mask of overwhelming piety, modesty and religious fervor. Orgon is the head of a household who has taken Tartuffe in. We laugh at Orgon because everyone else (except his mother) knows that Tartuffe is a fake. All of Orgon's relatives warn him of Tartuffe's gluttony and of the false nature of his pious proclamations. When Dorine tries to tell Orgon about Elmire's illness, all Orgon can say is,
"Ah. And Tartuffe?"(21). When she tells him of Tartuffe's unconcern and zealous consumption in spite of Elmire's condition, he says, "Poor fellow!" Poor Orgon is so caught up in his own
idealistic belief in Tartuffe's saintliness that the reality of Tartuffe's actions goes right over his
head. When Damis tells Orgon that he has overheard Tartuffe's advances towards Elmire,
Orgon is so outraged that he disinherits Damis and banishes him from the house. In his
obsession, Orgon is mentally deaf and blind. Only when he hides under the table and hears
Tartuffe's advances toward Elmire, does reality finally confront Orgon's idealism and Tartuffe
is unmasked.
Moliere was a moderate and against excess and obsession in all things. In Tartuffe, he has
used Orgon as an example of how the obsessive need to believe can cause man to be taken
in by those who would cloak themselves in, and manipulate with, those beliefs. The play is
comic because Moliere shows how silly Orgon looks when his sincere belief is contrasted

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with the truth, which is seen by all but his blind self.


In Tartuffe, we have the classic comic scenario of two lovers, Valere and Marianne, trying to get together but being thwarted. However, instead of the villain, Tartuffe thwarting them, it is Orgon who gets in the way. Orgon tries to flatter Tartuffe by offering Marianne to be his wife. The other comic elements such as the unmasking of the villain and the happy ending are also present in Tartuffe.
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