Religious Hypocrisy in Tartuffe by Moliere
The legend of French literature Jean Baptiste Poquelin Molièrecreated many outstanding works of fiction, which are still appropriate, and brought a new look on many aspects of human society. It is hard to deny the usefulness of moral lecture in Moliere’s Tartuffe. The title means “hypocrite” from French and discloses the idea and the theme of the play. At the same time, there are many aspects to pay vivid and rapt attention to. One of them concentrates on the religion and its insincerity. Problematic character of the development and power of the Catholic Church is the most obvious in Tartuffe. Despite the fact that the author wrote the play in 1664, it remained suitable for later periods of time. Moreover, Tartuffe got a stream of criticism from the side of the Roman Catholic Church’s authority and the King Louis XIV. After all, it was banned to perform in theaters. Nevertheless, Moliere did not show his straight discontent to the church which basically backed up many political and cultural aspects of life at that time.
The scene begins when rich patriarch Orgon falls into a trap of a holier-than-thou young man Tartuffe. It is inconceivable, but he possesses very powerful influence on Orgon and his mother. As a result, the owner of the mansion becomes obsessed with hypocrite and his religious ideals and ideas. Blind Orgon gets no understanding from his daughter, son and servants. Even they are able to penetrate into the offensive entity of Tartuffe and notice his bad intentions. From the time he had appeared in the house, he became patriarch’s favorite. Orgon said to his brother-in-law Cléante about that young man (Shmoop University, n.d),”He used to come into our church each day and humbly kneel nearby, and start to pray. He’d draw the eyes of everybody there by the deep fervor of his heartfelt prayer”.
According to Sirratt (2009), this innocent statement contains several hidden meanings. When Orgon highlights “our church”, it is a sign of ownership, which shows his church membership. Honestly, this church membership belongs to a label. It is not a true view on religious person or Christian, because mostly refers to commitment and less to faith. In addition, “each day’ should meanthat Orgon also visited church every day, and there is no any hint on concrete days of the week. Hence, Orgon wanted to meet Tartuffe there and perform different of these queer acts of worship preferred by Tartuffe. Orgon has a big faith about hypocrite and his piety. Still the patriarch is obsessed with it and forgets about the family and different issues concerning everyday life. He begins to neglect his wife and shows the interest in Tartuffe’s personality, even though Elmire has fallen ill. First questions of Orgon refer only to such a religious man, who professionally manipulates the mind of the wealthy owner. The blindness of Orgon is evident, and Cléante tries to prove that it is a serious sin to praise “religion itself as “fair'” (Shmoop University, n.d.). Furthermore, the situation became more tense when the issue touched the planned wedding of Mariane and Valere. Orgon’s loss of common sense came to rashness. The servant of Orgon Dorine did not hide her aversion for hypocrite. She kept on telling that he would only spoil the life of a wonderful girl and the right way for her would be to play him false. The main reason why the father decided that his daughter should marry Tartuffe was his godliness and chastity. Besides, Orgon stated that Valere was a gambler, who badly impressed the father by his rare visits to church and his false orthodoxy (Moliere, Jean Baptiste Poquelin, p.68). For Orgon orthodoxy means a sound of faith. In this case, he takes a role of judge and estimates Valere’s faith. Hence, it shows Orgon’s confidence in his own religious appropriateness and faith. The man proves it by saying that he personally often goes to church, but never notices Valere there. Sirratt (2009), underlined the humorous way when Orgon said “I note”, that meant he tallied up the visits.
Probably, all the changes in the family caused by Tartuffe’s forthcoming help to show not only the character of the liar and hypocrite Tartuffe, but also the essence of Orgon. In order to be suitable to sanctimonious person and become the best friend and soul mate of him, he exposed the worst features which had been sleeping for a long time. Only Tartuffe could provoke them by his personal convulsed ideals and religious explanations. It touched Madame Pernelle too, who shared Orgon’s respect to young and smart man, such an evident sample of kindness. She accepted that her son loved Tartuffe more than his life and doted upon him (Sirratt, Erica, 2009). Sirratt continued (2009), there is a clear problem that with the help of Tartuff Orgon tried to find a way to connect the God and simply kept on worshipping the hypocrite. But God doesn’t want anyone and anything to set above Him and bow in front of. The author meant that to dote upon and worship Tartuffe was Orgon’s vivid disobedience. However, every kind of lie is disclosed sooner or later. Everything began to change when the main protagonist tried to impose his carnal desires and will on Orgon’s wife Elmire. He said to madam “A love of heavenly things does not preclude a proper love for earthly pulchritude” (Moliere, Jean Baptiste Poquelin, 24-27). Tartuffe is a master of manipulation, who tends to get his aim with the help of his own interpretations and flowery eloquences. In spite of that, he did not reach desired results and his ambitions crashed. It is not strange because such a “perfect personality’ should suffer a just punishment. Usually, Christians believe that God can indeed forgive human sins. Simultaneously, Tartuffe’s explanation is differs from the orthodox. He considers that it is normal to do anything with “pure intentions”, even though it is wrong and discrepant (Shmoop University, n.d.). Finally, Tartuffe got his deserved reproach in false religiousness and good intentions. In fact, he tried to own the riches of Orgon, and it was a cunning approach to gain the goal.
After all, the morality of the play is valuable and instructive. In order to be faithful and sincere it is much better to act like a Christian or a religious person, but not to simply show it off with the help of words. Two characters include negative features, especially poor boasting. There is very little concerning religion in their souls at all. Nevertheless, the main initiator of scandalous events is already ready to show his many ruses in a jail.