Tartuffe by Moliere – College Essay

Tartuffe is a play written by the French playwright Molière in the 17th century. It tells the story of a wealthy man named Orgon who falls under the influence of the fraudulent religious zealot Tartuffe, and the efforts of Orgon’s family and friends to expose Tartuffe for the fraud he is. The play was initially banned by the French government due to its satirical portrayal of religious hypocrisy, but eventually it was allowed to be performed and has since become one of Molière’s most well-known works.

At the beginning of the play, Orgon is introduced as a man who is easily swayed by others and is prone to making rash decisions. He becomes infatuated with Tartuffe, a man who claims to be a devoutly religious man but is actually a con artist who is only interested in Orgon’s wealth and status. Tartuffe manages to manipulate Orgon into giving him control over his household and finances, much to the dismay of Orgon’s family and friends.

One of the main themes of the play is the danger of blindly following authority figures, particularly those who claim to be acting in the name of religion. Tartuffe is able to convince Orgon to do his bidding by pretending to be a holy man who is deeply devoted to God. However, as the play progresses, it becomes clear that Tartuffe’s true motivations are far from virtuous. He is shown to be selfish, greedy, and manipulative, using his supposed religious piety as a guise to exploit others.

The other characters in the play are largely defined by their relationships to Tartuffe and their attempts to expose him for the fraud he is. Orgon’s wife, Elmire, is one of the main figures who tries to convince Orgon of Tartuffe’s true nature. She is a strong-willed and intelligent woman who sees through Tartuffe’s façade and tries to convince Orgon to see the truth as well. Orgon’s daughter, Mariane, is also a key figure in the play, as she is engaged to marry Tartuffe despite her hatred for him. Her resistance to the marriage and her eventual triumph over Tartuffe serve as a foil to Orgon’s susceptibility to his manipulations.

One of the most memorable aspects of Tartuffe is the character of Dorine, the clever and quick-witted maid in Orgon’s household. She is a strong-willed and independent woman who refuses to be intimidated by Tartuffe’s false piety and speaks her mind freely, even in the face of authority. She serves as a foil to Tartuffe’s manipulative and deceitful nature, and her wit and intelligence are a constant source of humor throughout the play.

The play ultimately ends with the revelation of Tartuffe’s true nature and his downfall. Orgon’s family and friends manage to expose Tartuffe’s fraudulent behavior and convince Orgon of his mistake in trusting him. However, the ending is somewhat bittersweet, as Orgon is left to confront the damage that Tartuffe has caused to his reputation and his family.

In conclusion, Tartuffe is a satirical play that addresses themes of religious hypocrisy, the danger of blindly following authority figures, and the importance of critical thinking. It is a classic work that has stood the test of time and continues to be relevant and thought-provoking today. Through its clever characters and sharp wit, Molière’s Tartuffe serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of letting oneself be swayed by those who seek to exploit and manipulate others.