Family and Society in Tartuffe by Molière

Tartuffe was first performed in 1664. The play is about a beggar by the name Tartuffe, and Orgon’s family, which has taken the responsibility of helping him (Moliere 3). Tartuffe is a good man, according to Orgon, and this is the reason why he decides to help him. He even trusts Tartuffe more than anyone in his family. In fact, it is evident that he trusts him more than his son and wife. Orgon’s mother tends to share the same view with her son, and she feels so bad that the other members of the family do not see Tartuffe the same way (Moliere 4). The beggar is hypocritical in the sense that he pretends to be pious, yet he is an evil man who convinces Orgon and his mother to trust him entirely and follow him. Orgon plans to give Tartuffe his daughter in marriage because of the confidence and respect he has for him. Interestingly, he makes this decision solely without considering his daughter’s feelings (Tartuffe). His daughter, who is already engaged to another man, receives the information with great surprise. Orgon’s house help, Dorine, is not happy about this plan because she is aware of the relationship between Orgon’s daughter and her fiancée Valere. She knows the beggar very well and all his pretence, and she plots to expose him to help put the situation right.

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Tartuffe’s hypocrisy is revealed when Orgon’s son overhears him declaring his love for his mother and he becomes so annoyed. His father is so blind that he cannot believe him, when Damis, his son, tells him about what he had seen and heard. Orgon believes that his son is evil, and he is telling him lies. As a result of this incident, he even disowns and disinherits him immediately (Tartuffe). Orgon is convinced, however, after seeing everything for himself. He chases Tartuffe out of his house, but the beggar is arrogant because he already knows that Orgon had signed documents showing that he is the owner of the house. Later, he tries to evict Orgon’s family, but he is arrested in the process after his hypocrisy is revealed (Moliere 34).

The play views marriage and family relations as crucial. Therefore, utmost care should be taken as one engages in them. It portrays a patriarchal society, whereby men make all decisions, including who to marry their daughters. Women are not involved in decision-making processes, and they are also used as minor characters. Relationships between men and women are that of marriage and servant-boss, but men are bosses and women are servants. Orgon does not consider his daughter’s feelings. He wants her to marry Tartuffe, knowing precisely that she is dating Valere. Orgon also decides whom to inherit his property. He disowns his son who tries to open his eyes to see Tartuffe’s hypocrisy. As a result, the beggar takes Damis’ position as his heir (Tartuffe).

Orgon does all this in good faith, since he believes that Tartuffe is a righteous man and when he marries his daughter, she would never suffer. The beggar, on the other hand, is self-centered and does not respect marriage at all. The Orgon’s family takes him in, but he does not respect the head of the household. He makes sexual advances to his wife several times. When he is caught, he is arrogant and turns against the people who have been helping him all along (Moliere 76). Marriage and family relations have been brought out using religion. Persons in this play tend to be religious fanatics who blindly trust a person because he pretends to be pious. They trust people because they use religious clichés in all places. Orgon’s mother is very annoyed when people doubt Tartuffe, who is a great man of God, according to her. Orgon blindly believes in the beggar to an extent that he disowns his son and makes Tartuffe his heir without consulting any member of the family. He learns that he has been blinded all this time when he hides under a table and hears Tartuffe declaring his love to his wife. Betrayal is the worst thing that can happen to anyone, and Orgon feels heartbroken, because not only Tartuffe wants his wife, but also because of the so much trust that he has had in him. He feels even more hurt considering the fact that he had given Tartuffe some important documents and even signed them, declaring him the owner of the house. This gives Tartuffe the upper hand and he evicts Orgon’s family from their house.

Orgon trusts Tartuffe more than anyone else in the family because of how he presents himself. He believes that he is a pious man who will never do anything bad in the family. He is proved wrong the first time, but he does not accept. In another instance, he experiences Tartuffe’s hypocrisy. Orgon’s son does not believe his ears when he hears Tartuffe hit on his mother. This event makes him disinherited by his father. The family head believes that his son is evil (Tartuffe). Thus, it can be stated that Orgon trusts the beggar than any other member of his family because of his high level of pretence.

In conclusion, literature is a mirror of society and the play reflects today’s communities in the sense that that the happenings in the production are the actual happenings in the current real world. Many people are blinded by religion today to an extent that they easily trust people who sell religion to them and a good number of these people cannot see anything beyond religious conviction.

Works Cited

Moliere, Jean. Tartuffe. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2004. Print.

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Tartuffe. Ex. Prod. Erich Pommer. Potsdam, Germany: UFA. 1926. DVD.

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