Tartuffe by Jean Baptiste Poquelin Moliere: Manipulation of Orgon

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In the play, Tartuffe, Orgon is swindled by the villainous Tartuffe, who manipulates Orgon into giving him his estate, wealth, and almost his daughter’s hand in marriage. Written by Jean Baptiste Poquelin Moliere, the work is an important piece of comedic work and, like Shakespeare, borrows ideas from commedia de’ll arte.

In Tartuffe, Orgon invites whom he thinks is a lonesome beggar who only does right in God’s eyes. He soon comes to find that Tartuffe is no better than the ground he walks upon when he sees with his own eyes that Tartuffe tries to persuade his own wife, Elmire, that “it is no sin to sin in confidence”. The main idea of this play is that you can never be sure who to trust. Orgon gave Tartuffe a home, believing that he could do no wrong. Orgon exiled his own son for speaking badly of Tartuffe. Then, when he told Tartuffe to leave his home, Tartuffe had already taken the signed deed and the exile’s documents from Orgon to the King and had Orgon to be placed under arrest and the family exiled from the house at once. Tartuffe betrayed Orgon after he had continued to trust him even after all of the ill-spoken words from the rest of the house.

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This work is comedic in a family sitcom type of way. For example, when Orgon is trying to persuade Mariane that she will marry Tartuffe, Dorine keeps talking aloud to herself after he tells her to remain silent while he talks to Mariane. And when Dorine says “I’d not wed such a monster, even in jest”, Orgon attempts to slap her and misses. So the source of comedy would be the bickering between Orgon and Dorine. Dorine tries to aggravate him on purpose because she doesn’t agree with his decision of Mariane marrying Tartuffe. Another example is when Orgon comes home and asks how things were while he was away. Dorine tells him of his wife’s illness and suffering and Orgon asks “And Tartuffe?”. She proceeds to tell him how great Tartuffe had been and every time, Orgon responds with “Poor fellow”.

Moliere also borrows some ideas from commedia de’ll arte. The stock characters (Magnifico, young lovers, zanni, etc.) can be found throughout the play. For example, Orgon is the head of the household and what he says, goes. He would be considered the Magnifico of this play. Zanni is usually very funny and is the trickster. Dorine, I think, would be considered the zanni because she likes to make Orgon angry to get a laugh. Young lovers in the work would obviously be Mariane and Valere. They’re only wish in life is to marry one another and they would rather die than be apart.

In conclusion, this work was a very funny and entertaining piece of art. It includes comedy, tragedy, almost adultery, and justice all in one play. I thought it was mostly easy to comprehend what the characters were saying, although some words seemed made up (pelf? cuckold?). There was a nice use of some of the stock characters of commedia de’ll arte. I thought Dorine was an amazing addition to this play. Lastly, this work teaches you that no matter how highly you think of a person, they aren’t always what you think behind closed doors.

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