Sharp Jabs To Society’s Behavior And Millennia-old Traditions In Tartuffe

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Throughout the play Tartuffe, Molière takes many sharp jabs to society’s behavior and millennia-old traditions. One of the main issues Molière had with 17th century Europe is the religious hypocrisy that overtook many people like the plague. One quote that best exemplifies this problem is said by Cléante, who says, “Those people, I say, who show an uncommon zeal for the next world in order to make their fortunes in this, who, with great affectation and earnestness, daily recommend solitude, while they live in courts. Men who know how to make their own vices consistent with their zeal; they are passionate, revengeful, faithless, full of artifice…” (I.v.14). Orgon and Cléante are currently talking about Tartuffe. While the former is constantly trying to defend Tartuffe’s name, Cléante refutes everything with his logic and knowledge of the truth. He knows full well how Tartuffe’s exterior is all a lie to appeal to Orgon, and in the passage above, he is blatantly saying that there are people who fake their piety. Instead of them being sincere Christians, they are greedy, passionate, revengeful, faithless, and cunning.

Aside from this glaring issue in society, another problem Molière had was the rearranged marriages that were commonplace in his time. Judging by the comments he made in his play, his outlook towards said kinds of marriages was, simply to say, negative. When Dorine is opposing Orgon’s wishes to marry Mariane off to Tartuffe, she says, “Can you have the heart to fling away such a girl as this upon such a man as he? Should you not consult propriety, and look a little forward to the consequences of such a union as this? Depend upon’t, a young woman’s virtue is in some danger when she isn’t married to her mind; that her living virtuously afterward depends, in a great measure, upon the good qualities of her husband; … It is no easy task to be faithful to some sorts of husbands, and he that gives his daughter a man she hates is accountable to Heaven for the slips she makes” (II.ii.18). In this passage, Molière is trying to convey how a woman should not be forced to marry a man she hates; rather, she should be allowed to marry a man she loves. By being forcibly put in a marriage she wants no part in, this could lead her to commit adultery, which would then result in her father being the one at fault instead of her own.

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