Monkey and Tartuffe Term Paper

Pages: 3 (1159 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

Moliere Tartuffe

Monkey"-ing Around with Appearance and Reality -- the False Face of Moliere's Pious Hypocrite "Tartuffe" and the True Heart of the "Monkey"

Both Moliere's "Tartuffe" and the Chinese play "Monkey" revolve around the drama of potential marital relationships gone awry because of the failure of one of the partners to see the truth about another individual's fundamental character. In Moliere's "Tartuffe," for example, the aspiring bourgeois gentleman Orgon pays host to the supposedly religious man "Tartuffe," in hopes of securing his place in society and eventually (although perhaps less importantly) in heaven. What is obvious to all members of Orgon's household, however, except Orgon himself, is that Tartuffe is nothing like a true man of God. Rather Tartuffe is merely a dissembler who lusts after his patron's wife with an entirely irreligious force of passion and eats Orgon's meat and drinks his wine, all the while counseling Orgon to pray for his sins. When the maid of the house hears about his designs upon her mistress, Dorine constructs a plot to expose Tartuffe. Thus she functions as the kind of 'monkey' of the Moliere satire. Dorine and the other women of the tale function as one of the socially underestimated creatures who engineer a plot to expose the threat offered by the unexposed evil man, to the main female characters. In Moliere's social satire of class "Tartuffe," characters are under or over estimated because of their social class. In contrast, in the more mythically designed play "Monkey" they are over or underestimated by their appearances of strength and prowess.

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Mr. Kao doubts the titular "Monkey" of the Chinese play because of the monkey's appearance. Mr. Kao doubts that such a "frightful creature" as the money can catch the kind of powerful monster who ensnared the heart of the Kao daughter.

Term Paper on Monkey and Tartuffe Assignment

A dissembler has married Kao's daughter, and thus she essentially suffers the threatened but unrealized fate of Moliere's Marianne. Tartuffe merely expresses his designs on the young woman, but in "Monkey" the girl is actively spirited away. The girl of "Monkey" has become confused between the appearance and the reality of her suitor's nature, although Moliere's Marianne wishes to marry a man of true heart, and only her father is confused about Tartuffe. In reply to Mr. Kao, Monkey says, "if you judge people by their appearance, you'll always be going wrong," much as the man's daughter went wrong in her marital alliance. (34)

Thus, Mr. Kao nearly commits the same error as his daughter in regards to appearances. The girl Kao misjudges her potential husband, as does her father the monkey who must save her. But they may be excused, as physical appearances are far more permeable in "Monkey" than in "Tartuffe." True, a foolish father figure also dominates the Moliere play. However, Orgon does not simply distrust his good loyal servants and wife on the words of Tartuffe. Orgon fundamentally mistrusts himself and his own status in the world, and the very obvious hypocrisy of the sponging religious hypocrite who takes advantage of his wealth. Because Orgon is an aspirant to social status, who wants to make good in a society that does not like self-made men, but only aristocrats to the manner born, Orgon trusts in Tartuffe's image of pious hypocrisy and sage advice in a way that defies what is obvious.

Unlike the physical transformation of "Monkey," the characters of Moliere do not wear masks of appearances, but masks of social or moral… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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