Religious Fanaticism

In Moliere’s comedy Tartuffe, The play centers on the
family of Orgon, a wealthy and impressionable man, his
central target of ridicule is Orgon. Orgon is Moliere’s
character of how man can be so blind in his devotion to a
belief that he cannot make a good judgement as to the
sincerity of others who would use that belief to deceive
him. This play fits into the concept of comedy because all
of the elements of comedy are present. It happens that the
title character is the villain rather than the hero and some of
the elements have been tampered with. In Tartuffe, we
have the classic comic scenario of two lovers, Valere and
Marianne, trying to get together but being thwarted.
However, instead of the villain, Tartuffe is not the one who
is antagonizing them, it is Orgon who gets in the way.
Orgon tries to flatter Tartuffe by offering Marianne to be his
wife. Before it is all over, Orgon ends up giving the deed to
all his land to the deceitful Tartuffe. The other comic
elements such as the unmasking of the villain and the happy
ending are also present in Tartuffe. It is in the duality of
Orgon, who is a believing and devoted subject, and
Tartuffe, the manipulating hypocrite. Moliere takes his shot
at the extremes of enthusiastic belief. Tartuffe plays the role
of a man whose greedy actions are cloaked by a mask of
overwhelming piety, modesty and religious passion. Orgon
is the head of a household who has taken Tartuffe in, and
given him shelter and food. Everyone in the family, except
Orogon’s mother, knows that Tartuffe is a fake. In this play
Moliere uses Cleante to emphasize pious qualities, Cleante
spoke with wisdom common sense and moderation. All of
Orgon’s relatives try to warn him of Tartuffe’s gluttony and
the false nature of his pious proclamations. When Dorine
tries to tell Orgon about how sick Elmire is, all Orgon can
say is “Ah and Tartuffe?” He is only concerned with the
well being of Tartuffe. When she tries to explain that
Tartuffe has no concern for Elmire’s health, and that he is
only concerned with eating food, all he can say is “Poor
fellow!” Orgon is so caught up in his own perception of
Tartuffe as a saint, and all that Tartuffe does. It is as if
Tartuffe can do no wrong. When Orgon\'s son Damis tells
his father what he has overheard and that Tartuffe was
making advances toward Elmire. Orgon is so upset with
Damis, that he disowns his son, and exiles his son from the
house and the property. Because of this passion Orgon is
stupid and blind to all that is going on around him. Despite
the protestations of his sensible brother-in-law Cleante and
his son Damis, Orgon determines that his daughter
Mariane, who is in love with a young man named Valere,
shall marry Tartuffe. When Orgon’s wife Elmire seeks out
Tartuffe to beg him to refuse Mariane’s hand, he attempts
to seduce her. It is at this point that Elmire decides that the
truth can only be exposed through lies. And she wants to
prove to her husband what Tartuffe is really like. Only
when his wife Elmire convinces him to hide under the table
and hear Tartuffe’s advances towards her, does the reality
finally confront Orgon’s idealism and Tartuffe is unmasked.
Orgon’s eyes are opened, a little too late. For he has
already assigned all he owns to Tartuffe. When Tartuffe
realizes his hypocrisy has been discovered, he promptly
turns the family out of the house. Then by reporting to the
authorities that Orgon possesses a strongbox containing the
papers of an exiled friend, Tartuffe tries to have his former
host arrested. Elmire, feels that the people will be outraged
by what has happened to them and their family, and they
will bring justice to Tartuffe. But by order of the King, the
arresting officer apprehends Tartuffe instead, and the
imposter is hauled off to prison for his treacherous behavior
toward his well meaning if too believing host. The play ends
as Damis is reconciled with his father and the wedding of
Marianne and Valere is announced. It is my belief that
Moliere was a moderate and against excess and obsession
in all things. In Tartuffe, he has used Orgon as an example
of how the obsessive need to believe can cause man to be
taken in by those who would cloak themselves in, and
manipulate with, those beliefs. The play is comic because
Moliere shows how silly and foolish Orgon looks, when his
sincere belief is contrasted with the truth,