Self-Image in Tartuffe Essay

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Self-Image in Tartuffe

In Tartuffe, Orgon illustrates what happens when we allow society's image of our lives to dictate our own self-image. In the 1600's a society existed in which social conventions held individuals more responsible for their public images than for their private lives. Individuals were deemed worthy or unworthy by the image they projected in their public lives. Orgon had shown himself to be worthy to society by having supported the kingdom in a civil war, "By these decrees, our Prince rewards you for / Your loyal deeds in the late civil war,". (5.7.79 -- 80) However, Orgon recognized that he had tarnished his public image and made questionable his loyalty to the kingdom by accepting and secretly hidden
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Orgon stated, "And when I wouldn't take it back, he'd share / Half of it with the poor, right then and there." (1.5.39 -- 40) There is no mention of others bestowing gifts upon Tartuffe nor is there any mention of others receiving special treatment from him. Orgon told Cleante that, "And when I rose to go, he'd run before / To offer me holy-water at the door." (1.5.31 -- 32) Tartuffe must have realized that Orgon was eagerly attempting to impress society and even that Orgon was keeping a secret he felt guilt over. Tartuffe was soon invited to live in the home of Orgon who believed of Tartuffe that, " There's been no loftier souls since time began." (1.5.13) Tartuffe had Orgon's complete confidence and loyalty. Orgon told Cleante, his brother-in-law, of the secret papers, "and it seemed best / To ask counsel of my pious guest." (5.1.33 -- 35) Orgon confessed his secret of Argas' private papers to Tartuffe. Orgon was then convinced to leave the strong box with his confidant. "The cunning scoundrel got me to agree / To leave the strong-box in his custody." (5.1.15 -- 16) What had begun as an attempt to better his standing in the community in case the papers were discovered, backfired on Orgon, as he lost his will and took on that of Tartuffe.
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