Tartuffe an Analysis of Hypocrisy Term Paper

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1). Mariane might have pleased her father without regard for the truth, but because truth is due a greater respect than mere humanity, she shows her own virtue by refusing to consent to a lie. Orgon, however, insists that lies be truth and answers her question thus: "Because I mean to have it be the truth" (Moliere 2.1).

What explains Orgon's behavior is simple: the loss of humility clouds his judgment so that he no longer sees the need to discern between truth and falsehood. Willing to accept the flattery of Tartuffe, Orgon now endangers the happiness of his children. Orgon reveals to all that he lacks the charity that must accompany discernment. Tartuffe's poverty inspires him to philanthropy -- which is hardly true charity. Rather philanthropy, though directed outward, is nothing more than an action designed to make oneself feel good. Orgon's entire being has been taken over by the evil designs of Tartuffe because Orgon has allowed himself to be led into vice.

In fact, as more and more characters object, all Orgon can say is "Hold your tongue" (Moliere 2.1). His ears cannot bear the reproach that others heap upon him now. Guilty of having locked up his intellect, he is not yet ready to admit of his foolishness and will not tolerate others pointing it out to him.

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But what is it, for example, that drives Dorine to speak so boldly to Orgon? "Tis love of you…" -- the charity and duty that the servant owes to the master: it is not flattery, it is not disrespect: it is honor, and Dorine possesses. Yet, Orgon refuses it: "I want none of your love" (Moliere 2.1). What Orgon wants, apparently, is nothing but flattery. Moliere's Tartuffe becomes achingly similar to Shakespeare's King Lear -- another drama in which a foolish old man is deceived by flattery and put off by love.

Term Paper on Tartuffe an Analysis of Hypocrisy Assignment

However, there is a difference between Lear and Tartuffe -- and this is that the former is a tragedy and the latter a comedy. While Lear realizes all too late that Cordelia has been most loyal to him out of all his daughters, Tartuffe realizes his foolishness just in the nick of time. And yet -- not so -- because Tartuffe still shows that he has the upper hand, when he serves Orgon and his family an eviction notice and takes over their dwellings.

It is only through the intercession of the king (the sovereign judge and the symbol of the Final Judgment to come) that Tartuffe's antics are finally put to an end and happiness and order are restored. Yet, still, it is Cleante, the character who first tried to remove the blinders from Orgon's eyes, who now restrains Orgon from delivering a final rebuff to the condemned Tartuffe: "I beg you, leave the poor wretch to his unhappy fate, and let remorse oppress him, but not you. Hope rather that his heart may now return to virtue, hate his vice, reform his ways, and win the pardon of our glorious prince" (Moliere 5.8). Cleante demonstrates the virtue that the pious truly maintain. Cleante, in other words, serves as the foil for Tartuffe, and the guide, should he now seek it, for Orgon. Orgon finally praises Cleante's sound judgment and agrees to follow the king and symbol of true virtue.

In conclusion, Moliere gives several examples of characters whose virtue, charity, and ability to discern truth from falsehood keeps them from falling prey to the deceptions of Tartuffe. But he also gives, in the character of Orgon and his mother, the fool who allows himself to be swayed by flattery and deceived by Philistinism. As Weaver reminds us, it is the desire for immediacy and impatience with the spiritual that keeps the hypocrite from contemplating his own hypocrisy. Orgon, if not a hypocrite, is certainly a hypocrite's follower -- and he is saved not by own his own good sense, but by the intercession of goodness itself, which cleanses the eyes of Orgon and allows him to acknowledge the good sense of his brother, Cleante.

Works Cited

Bates, Alfred. The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization. UK:

Historical Publishing Company, 1906.

Moliere. Tartuffe. Project Gutenberg. 2004. Web. 23 July 2011.

"Moliere's 'Tartuffe'." The University of Akron. 2005. Web.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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