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TheCriticism of the Religious Hypocrisy in Tartuffe
Moliere`s Tartuffe is a play that is focused on the church andthe behaviors of their leaders. More importantly, it summarizes thelife of the main character Tartuffe, who is a religious leader. Inthis case, the man that is supposed to be holy and lead by exampleembraces a completely opposite personality that undermines the imageof the church. For instance, the play reveals how he is a hypocrite,seducer, liar and a thief too. His behaviors justify the hypocrisysince he uses the title of a priest as a way to hide his realidentity as a criminal. The scenario makes the play more interestingas Moliere criticizes religious hypocrisy in his nation at thatspecific time. In particular, Tartuffe has blinded Orgon’s familyand some members that support his self-centered ideologies. A look atthe play shows how he tries to divide the family since Damis, Elmire,Valere and Dorine are against his ideologies while Orgon, MadamePernelle, and Mariane somehow accommodate the endless demands that hemakes. He uses piety in winning Orgon’s trust and controlling theentire family as well. Tartuffe knows that Orgon’s support is whatmatters, and he focuses on blinding him and showing how he is a greatperson instead. All in all, the play evaluates the behavior of thereligious people and reveals the requirements that they are supposedto meet to be considered as the role models. They are supposed tobehave in a righteous way that aligns with the teachings that theypresent in their sermons. This essay will criticize the religioushypocrisy that is seen in Tartuffe’s behavior as a leader since hefocuses on dividing Orgon’s family, breaks marriages and wants tosteal their properties too.
The play clearly criticizes the blind faith that some people mighthave and the impact that it might have on the society. Morespecifically, the Orgon is the victim since he has pledged hisloyalty to Tartuffe that is a pastor that seems to mislead hisfollowers. In fact, his personality reveals how he is a fraud, and heuses his tricks to manipulate Orgon (Crawford). However, thereligious image helps in hiding his real motive and what he wanted toachieve. In the process, Orgon believes the assumption that he is aspiritual leader and he even trusts him completely. His smartnesshelps him to incorporate the qualities of a real religious leader anda con that is ready to exploit the vulnerable followers that havebeen blinded by the beliefs. Tartuffe does not worry about theconsequences of his acts and simply does anything as long as he willbenefit. He looks at the ones that doubt his spirituality andcredibility as enemies of the religion. Besides that, he believesthat they are just a part of the temptations that he has to face inorder to strengthen his faith (Ball). On the other hand, Orgonrepresents a stupidity incarnate since he is ready to followeverything the so-called “religious leader” asserts. The scenariocreates tension in his family and shows how he is the main victim ofthe religious hypocrisy in the play. Instead, Orgon does notunderstand the conflicts that he is creating since he believes thathe is on the right path. For instance, he questions the hate that hisfamily members have towards Tartuffe. He knows that Tartuffe is aspiritual person and they do not have to question his characterbecause he knows what he does.
Tartuffe even reveals religious hypocrisy when he transpires to stealthe property that belongs to the Orgon’s family. More importantly,Tartuffe divides the family when he creates factions in the family.His conflict with the other family members led to more enmity and thedivision too. On the other hand, he supported Orgon and kept makingmore demands that showed his real intentions. For instance, Damis wasthe most vocal one in the family, and he insisted that “Good God!Do you expect me to submit/ To the tyranny of that carpinghypocrite?/ Must we forgo all joys and satisfactions/ Because thatbigot censures all our actions?” (Moliere, 1.1.18). The scenarioshows Damis opposition to Tartuffe’s presence in the family, and hewishes that his father could get rid of him. Later, even Damis triesto confront Tartuffe about his immoral behaviors and how he tried toseduce his mother. However, Orgon decides to defend the religiousleader, and he believes that his son has reached a point where heneeds to apologize. When Damis disagrees to comply with such demands,his father disinherits him, and he gives the right to Tartuffe.Shockingly, Orgon even gives him some of the documents that reveal heis the owner of the family’s property instead. When Orgonunderstand that he is a fraud, he tries to chase him away but,Tartuffe reminds him that he has the documents that grant him theownership of his entire property (Prest, 21). He even sends a noticeof eviction where he wants the entire family to leave the property.The king is the one that saves them from the hands of Tartuffe thatseems to be a hardcore criminal instead. In this scenario, thehypocrisy is evident when the religious leader wants to steal hisloyal follower’s property.
Tartuffe reveals religious hypocrisy when he tries to destroy Marianeand Valere’s wedding. Usually, the religious leaders are supposedto strengthen a marriage and guide them on the appropriate thingsthat they should establish. In this case, a spiritual person shouldnurture the relationship and make sure that the lovers base theirbind on the social values. However, Tartuffe, who is a religiousleader, is the one that is on the frontline in breaking the twolovers. More specifically, Tartuffe believes that he is the right manfor Mariane, and he persuades Orgon to cancel his daughter’swedding (Cashman, 28). The society does not expect such behaviorsfrom the religious leaders that are supposed to guide people. Infact, they should also lead by example and ensure that theirpersonality does not go against the teachings that they are oftenpresenting. If they have any questionable conduct, the society hasthe right to doubt their credibility. Even Cléante insists that“they [men like Tartuffe] cloak their spite in fair religion`sname/ Their private spleen and malice being made/ To seem a high andvirtuous crusade” (Moliere, 1.5.11). The scenario shows how thesociety doubts Tartuffe’s personality and believes that he needs tochange his ways since he does not paint the image of a religiousleader. He has misled Orgon, and he goes ahead to persuade Mariane,who does not have control over her father’s decisions. When Dorinetries to persuade Mariane, she reveals that “you know that fathershave such sway/ Over our lives that I’ve nothing to say./ I’venever had the strength” (Moliere, 2.3.15-17). The statement showsthe impact of Tartuffe on the Orgon’s family since everyone is ableto adhere to his decisions. All in all, it reveals the religioushypocrisy that Tartuffe displays when he does not respect themarriage institution that he should be protecting.
A religious leader is supposed to preach about peace and urge hisfollowers to remain united. Instead, Tartuffe divides the Orgonfamily by seeking support from some of the members and creatingtension between them. More specifically, Dorine, Damis, and Elmireare the three members that are clearly against Tartuffe’s influenceover the family. Orgon, Madame Pernelle, and Mariane are easilyinfluenced by Tartuffe’s ideologies and the assumptions that he isa religious leader (Orlich, 43). In the process, he ends up creatinga division in the family rather than uniting them. In particular, itis fair if the religious leader is able to create unity and ensurethat they live in harmony. However, Tartuffe does not think alongthat line since he is self-centered and he wants to have issues thatwill benefit him alone. Dorine and Damis are the ones that clearlyunderstand him and reveal his real intentions yet, the other membersbelieve that he is a right person. In this case, Dorine even insiststhat “you see him as a saint. I`m far less awed/ In fact, I seeright through him. He`s a fraud” (Moliere, 1.1.23). The scenarioreveals how Dorine feels about Tartuffe, and he tries to make theother family members understand that. His presence in the familycreates tension since he divides them as he tries to get Mariane ashis wife. Besides that, he also attempts to squander the family’sproperty, and leave them without anything. Shockingly Dorine andDamis are the most vocal ones while the other ones are reluctant incriticizing the religious leader. Perhaps, if the entire team wouldhave agreed to oppose Tartuffe, everything would have turned howgreat. Their reluctance gives him a chance to manipulate them as hegets other ways to divide them.
Tartuffe also reveals religious hypocrisy when he tries to seduceOrgon’s wife Elmire. In fact, it was strange how he was supposed towed Mariane, who is Elmire daughter yet, he also wants her mother.In this case, the level of promiscuity that Tartuffe is unacceptablein the society. Furthermore, a religious leader is supposed to be arole model and lead the society by example. However, his behaviorsare questionable and make the society wonder even if he still meetsthe requirements of being a religious leader (Lynch & Fisher,36). For instance, he is unable to control his sexual appetite andstick with only one lady. First, Mariane had a fiancée, and they hadplanned their wedding before Tartuffe demanded that he wanted her. Inthe process, Orgon had to cancel his daughter’s wedding and makesure that he arranges another one. Besides that, he still wanted tocommit adultery, which is one of the sins that the spiritual leadersare not supposed to undertake. As a religious leader, he should unitethe marriage partners and ensure that nothing divides them. Forinstance, his place in the society needs proper counseling andhelping the couples in solving their marital problems. On the otherhand, Tartuffe is a home wrecker that does not treasure the marriageinstitution and goes around breaking families (Lynch & Fisher,38). The inappropriate conduct reveals that he is not a right personto lead a community that requires the moral guidance. His personalitymatches a hardcore criminal or a fraud that simply uses the spiritualposition as a disguise to hide his real intentions. When the righttime comes, he reveals his reasons for pretending that he is areligious leader. Orgon even wishes that he had listened to Damis andDorine that tried to warn him against the man.
Tartuffe also uses deception in tricking his followers to believethat he is a religious person that values their presence. Forinstance, he uses morality and piety as some of the key aspects thatpaint him as the right person. As Orgon explains how he met Tartuffe,his brother-in-law knows that the man is a fraud. However, Orgon isblinded by the lies and deception, and he cannot differentiate a realperson from a fake one. In fact, Tartuffe tricks Orgon into trustinghim and ignoring his family that only wants the best for him.Instead, he believes that the religious leader wishes well and he hasthe keys that will guide his life appropriately. Despite theintervention that his family provides, he still believes that thefamily members do not understand his moral stand. Even when henotices Tartuffe looking at Elmire attentively, he ignores theassumption that he might have some other negative intentions(Moliere, 25). Orgon believes that his religious leader is simplyappreciating Elmire’s beauty and complexion. In reality, everyoneknows that he is a womanizer and he is planning on the best way toseduce Elmire instead. The dramatic irony shows how Orgon is blindedby the events and he does not believe that the family members meanwell. More importantly, the entire scenario reveals that Tartuffe isa master of deception and he is ready to use his skills to trick hisfollowers. He has been able to fool Orgon that believes everything hesays and he is willing to give anything to prove his loyalty. In theprocess, no one can even sway Orgon’s stand in the religiousfaction that is led by Tartuffe. Anyone that persuades him to believeotherwise is termed as an enemy.
In the play, Tartuffe tricks the members of the society intobelieving that he has the keys to heaven. The scenario won the trustof his followers since they knew that their loyalty somehow cementedtheir faith in the religion. Most of the followers were blinded bythe false promises that he could not deliver. Orgon and MadamePernelle are some of the victims that have fallen for the lies andmalice that he has presented. He also fuses piety in hisinappropriate behavior to hide the real intentions that he wants toachieve. For instance, people believe that he is a righteous personsince he makes them think so. In reality, he is just a criminal thatis trying to exploit their vulnerability as a way to seek more richesinstead (Lloyd). Even if doubters question his personality, othersare ready to defend his actions and justify how he is focused onimproving their condition in the society. However, they are unawareof his real identity and how he has been able to master the art ofbeing a fraud. In fact, the sexual misadventure exposes his behaviorssince he had tried to hide everything instead.
To some extent, the play applies to the contemporary society wherethe religious leaders have ignored their roles. Instead, theirbehavior does not reflect the teachings that they present to theirfollowers. In fact, it shows the need for the immediate interventionsince the members are being misled. For instance, most churches arein schemes that will enrich the pastors yet, the people aresuffering in poverty (Lloyd). Most of the pastors have turned thechurches into business ventures that improve their positions in thesociety. They have shifted from the role of guiding the followersthat are in need of role models. Some of them are even involved inscandals that keep undermining the images of their churches instead.All in all, the mainstream pastors match the personality thatTartuffe displays in the play, and especially the hypocrisy that hasbeen a bit misleading. The people have been unable to identify howthe pastors are simply using them to acquire more wealth yet theykeep suffering in poverty. Perhaps, they are waiting for a final signthat will open their eyes and reveal that the religious leaders arein some inappropriate schemes. The play is a way of sensitizing thesociety against the blind faith that is real, and most believersshould avoid the scenario (Lloyd). Besides that, it wants people toascertain the signs that determine the personality of a hypocritereligious leader that has other intentions apart from teaching andguiding the followers. In this case, the people need to understandthe way that they should interact with the leaders and the limits oftheir relationship to avoid any extreme exploitation.
In conclusion, Tartuffe was a hypocrite that engaged in some immoralacts such as the lies, stealing, adultery and dividing a family too.The conduct is not something that should be expected from a religiousleader. Usually, a religious leader is supposed to act as a rolemodel and guide the followers in understanding the scriptures and thevalues that they should embrace. In this case, the hypocrisy isevident in the way that Tartuffe divides the Orgon family and ensuresthat he has the support of the head. He knows that Orgon’s supportwill help him in securing the property that the family has created inthe past. In fact, Dorine and Damis are the few people that haverecognized the malice in Tartuffe’s acts. However, the othermembers have been blinded by his behaviors that rely on piety tocement his fake morals. Orgon will readily support his ideologies andoppose any family member that tries to criticize his priest. Besidesthat, Tartuffe also tries to seduce Elmire, who is Orgon’s wifehowever, Orgon does not support the same idea. He believes thatTartuffe cannot engage in such an inappropriate act since he is a manGod. The entire scenario reveals how he is a con since he has beenable to hide his true identity with the assumption that he is areligious personality. Orgon disinherits Damis when they disagree andhe gives Tartuffe the right to their property. Shockingly, thescenario shows that he has achieved his intention of stealing thevast wealth from the family. All in all, the King is the only onethat saves them from the malice and the immoral conduct that Tartuffeengages in.
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