In the Tartuffe Benjamin Koerner TARTUFFE 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. ACT IV Scene 7 Tartuffe, Elmire, Orgon TARTUFFE [Not seeing 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 upper hand 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 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 Tartuffe 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 Areas, 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 Vale re is announced.