Tartuffe Literature Essay Sample
One of the most famous aphorisms, “Fake it till you make it”, calls for imitating confidence or a certain mindset long before it’s achieved. Whether a person conjures a classy behavior or a religious persona, people want what they can’t have. Religion is no exception. For some, religion is a means of hope, shedding light onto the dark abyss of what people call their life. For others, religion is a tool of manipulation. In Tartuffe by Molière, Tartuffe, the antagonist, leverages religion to disguise his selfish desires.
The comedy begins with Madame Pernelle, the protagonist’s mother. She berates her family for not taking a liking to Tartuffe. This establishes the tone for the comedy early on: Tartuffe’s dominance in the household. Tartuffe deludes Madame Pernelle and Orgon, the protagonist, to view him as a significant, religious man. In reality, Tartuffe is a con man. He crafts a persona surrounding religion to weave himself into Orgon’s household to take his possessions. A person becomes corrupted from too much power. Tartuffe displays the significant role of the church that dominates society. Because the church places religion on a pedestal, it is no surprise that individuals like Tartuffe who have nothing would use religion to gain upper hand over others.
Humans are flawed. Even the most “religious” man or woman has their own set of imperfections. However, it is the concept of being “perfectly” religious that deludes people into thinking that they are pious, sin-free individuals. Molière’s comedy reveals that a person will do anything for wealth and power. Hypocrisy blinds even the most sensible person. Tartuffe draws Orgon in by displaying how he “used to come [to] church each day and humbly kneel nearby” (12). Tartuffe’s actions were merely a front. His religious mockery promotes manipulation in Oregon and Madame Pernelle, who fail to recognize their inner hypocrisy in falling for Tartuffe’s religious charade and neglecting the open truth. Religious people don’t need to gain validation from others to elevate their piety. The moment a person brings up their “good deeds” or “humbleness”, one can infer that it’s all for show.
Tartuffe brings up a problem in the Catholic Church: religious corruption. Tartuffe preaches one thing and does the complete opposite. When Orgon learns of Tartuffe’s hypocrisy, he claims he is “through with pious men” (68). Orgon’s reaction encapsulates how like-minded individuals feel when authoritative figures use religion and the grace of God to conceal their faults. By painting a picture-perfect version of himself but doing the opposite, Tartuffe represents the hypocrisy in the Catholic Church, while Orgon and Madame Pernelle represent the vulnerable subjects. The exploitation of greedy individuals and the church is a major theme in the comedy.
Molière’s Tartuffe reveals what kindness can do - cause someone to take advantage and exploit them. Tartuffe satirizes religious hypocrisy and highlights the loss of one man’s greed. The desire to have what one can’t afford without attainable goals only results in misfortune, and for Tartuffe, the end of his facade.