Criticism of Religious Hypocrites in Moliere's Tartuffe Essay

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Criticism of Religious Hypocrites in Tartuffe

Moliere rocked the 17th century French world with his comedy "Tartuffe" in 1664. Although, religious factions kept the play banned from theatres from 1664-1669, "Tartuffe" emerged from the controversy as one of the all-time great comedies. Tartuffe is a convincing religious hypocrite. He is a parasite who is sucking Orgon, the rich trusting father, for all he is worth. Orgon does not realize that Tartuffe is a phony, and caters to his every whim. For instance, he reneges on his promise to let his daughter Mariane, marry Valere. Instead he demands that she wed Tartuffe, whom she despises. He also banishes his own son, Damis, from his house for speaking out against Tartuffe and
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" If one takes the trouble to examine my comedy in good faith, he will surely see that my intentions are innocent throughout, and tend in no way to make fun of what men revere; that I have presented the subject with all the precautions that its delicacy imposes; and that I have used all the art and skill that I could to distinguish clearly the character of the hypocrite from that of the truly devout man." (Meyer 1509)

The play successfully conveys this message because Tartuffe is a first-class villain. He is as manipulative as Lady Macbeth, as greedy as Prince John, as underhanded as Modred, and as clever as Darth Vader. Through his every word and deed it becomes more apparent that he is thoroughly bad. More specifically, he not only wants to marry Orgon's daughter, but wants to defile his wife as well. He is not satisfied with living off of Orgon's wealth but wants to possess it. At no time in the play does Tartuffe resemble a truly pious man. The play never mocks God, but only those who use his name to prey on unsuspecting fools.

The part of the fool is played to the hilt by Orgon. Throughout the first three acts he is such a domineering idiot that he is not even worth pitying. He, along with his mother, play the part of the blind zealot. What he chooses to call Christian love leads him to punish his family and himself because he takes away their freedom of choice and integrity and his own property. But, Orgon is not content to follow