Essay on Tartuffe

1055 Words Dec 8th, 2011 5 Pages
Cleante: A True Enlightenment Man Moliere’s Tartuffe is from 17th century France, during the Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason. The type of Enlightenment in the western culture differed from the Eastern Asian philosophies. Enlightenment thinkers put faith in reason and analysis in the Western culture. Tartuffe was born to a culture that valued the age of rationalism, or practical thinking, which had gradually departed from religious beginnings. Furthermore, people in Paris were interested in Enlightenment values such as rationality, moderation, and order. In addition, good manners and gender roles were strictly enforced during this time period. Moliere demonstrates all of these Enlightenment values in his play. The …show more content…
He tells Orgon that his love of Tartuffe is “nonsense,” and attempts to enlighten him about Tartuffe’s true nature. Yet Cleante knows that his brother-in-law’s mind is clouded by his emotions. Trying to talk sense into his brother, Cleante is the voice of reason, which goes unheard. Orgon believes so intensely in Tartuffe’s godliness and goodness that he is willing to give up anything for him, including his daughter’s happiness in marrying the man she loves. In Act I, scene 5, Orgon blatantly disregards the promise of marriage he made to Valère to his daughter and has plans to give his daughter’s hand to Tartuffe. Second, the value of moderation and reason in all things, as opposed to excess and obsession, is an important theme running throughout Tartuffe. Cleante is the voice of reason also because he promotes moderation and balance throughout the play. After Orgon realizes Tartuffe’s real nature, Orgon becomes emotional and begins to angrily say that he is “through with pious men” (Molière 244). Again, Cleante displays emotional control by questioning Orgon on why he could not be rational (Molière 244). Cleante advises Orgon that the lesson to be learned from his experience with Tartuffe is not to curse all men who appear to be good but rather carefully avoid all extremes of behavior and judgment to act less impulsively