Fiction > Harvard Classics > Molière > Tartuffe
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Jean Baptiste Poquelin Molière (1622–1673).  Tartuffe.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Act III
 
Scene VI
 
 
ORGON,  DAMIS,  TARTUFFE

Orgon

Just Heaven! Can what I hear be credited?
 
Tartuffe

Yes, brother, I am wicked, I am guilty,
A miserable sinner, steeped in evil,
The greatest criminal that ever lived.
Each moment of my life is stained with soilures;        5
And all is but a mass of crime and filth;
Heaven, for my punishment, I see it plainly,
Would mortify me now. Whatever wrong
They find to charge me with, I’ll not deny it
But guard against the pride of self-defence.        10
Believe their stories, arm your wrath against me,
And drive me like a villain from your house;
I cannot have so great a share of shame
But what I have deserved a greater still.
 
Orgon  (to his son)

You miscreant, can you dare, with such a falsehood,
        15
To try to stain the whiteness of his virtue?
 
Damis

What! The feigned meekness of this hypocrite
Makes you discredit…
 
Orgon

        Silence, cursèd plague!
 
Tartuffe

Ah! Let him speak; you chide him wrongfully;
        20
You’d do far better to believe his tales.
Why favour me so much in such a matter?
How can you know of what I’m capable?
And should you trust my outward semblance, brother,
Or judge therefrom that I’m the better man?        25
No, no; you let appearances deceive you;
I’m anything but what I’m thought to be,
Alas! and though all men believe me godly,
The simple truth is, I’m a worthless creature.
 
(To DAMIS)

Yes, my dear son, say on, and call me traitor,
        30
Abandoned scoundrel, thief, and murderer;
Heap on me names yet more detestable,
And I shall not gainsay you; I’ve deserved them;
I’ll bear this ignominy on my knees,
To expiate in shame the crimes I’ve done.        35
 
Orgon  (to TARTUFFE)

Ah, brother, ’tis too much!
 
(To his son)

        You’ll not relent,
You blackguard?
 
Damis

        What! His talk can so deceive you…
 
Orgon

Silence, you scoundrel!
        40
 
(To TARTUFFE)

        Brother, rise, I beg you.
 
(To his son)

Infamous villain!
 
Damis

        Can he…
 
Orgon

        Silence!
 
Damis

        What…
        45
 
Orgon

Another word, I’ll break your every bone.
 
Tartuffe

Brother, in God’s name, don’t be angry with him!
I’d rather bear myself the bitterest torture
Than have him get a scratch on my account.
 
Orgon  (to his son)

Ungrateful monster!
        50
 
Tartuffe

        Stop. Upon my knees
I beg you pardon him…
 
Orgon  (throwing himself on his knees too, and embracing TARTUFFE)

        Alas! How can you?
 
(To his son)

Villain! Behold his goodness!
 
Damis

        So…
        55
 
Orgon

        Be still.
 
Damis

What! I…
 
Orgon

        Be still, I say. I know your motives
For this attack. You hate him, all of you;
Wife, children, servants, all let loose upon him,        60
You have recourse to every shameful trick
To drive this godly man out of my house;
The more you strive to rid yourselves of him,
The more I’ll strive to make him stay with me;
I’ll have him straightway married to may daughter,        65
Just to confound the pride of all of you.
 
Damis

What! Will you force her to accept his hand?
 
Orgon

Yes, and this very evening, to enrage you,
Young rascal! Ah! I’ll brave you all, and show you
That I’m the master, and must be obeyed.        70
Now, down upon your knees this instant, rogue,
And take back what you said, and ask his pardon.
 
Damis

Who? I? Ask pardon of that cheating scoundrel…?
 
Orgon

Do you resist, you beggar, and insult him?
A cudgel, here! a cudgel!        75
 
(To TARTUFFE)

        Don’t restrain me.
 
(To his son)

Off with you! Leave my house this instant, sirrah,
And never dare set foot in it again.
 
Damis

Yes, I will leave your house, but…
 
Orgon

        Leave it quickly.
        80
You reprobate, I disinherit you,
And give you, too, my curse into the bargain.
 

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