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Moliere's Tartuffe
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West Bay Opera: TARTUFFE Act 3
tartuffetable_2.jpg
Hidden under the table, Orgon faints dead away when Tartuffe tries to seduce Elmire

Tartuffe

Remember the importance of balance and form in the Enlightenment. Moliere uses balance in his rhyming couplets in the play. Two consecutive lines rhyme. Compare this to Pope’s use of heroic couplets.

This exchange between Orgon's mother and his brother-in-law addresses the often-debated topic of whether one should live his/her life for how it looks to others.

lines 85-102, pages 315-316

Dorine, the lady’s maid, comments on how some react after age replaces good looks (loss of self-confidence).

lines 121 - 140, page 316 on

Dorine summarizes how Tartuffe has gulled Orgon.

lines 9 - 40, pages 317-318

Orgon's obsession with Tartuffe is an example of his monomania. Orgon completely ignores Dorine's description of his wife's illness the night before, concerning himself only with Tartuffe's well-being.

lines 4 - 36, page 319

Orgon tries to convince Cleante of Tartuffe's goodness. Cleante's response is typical of Enlightenment beliefs and is also very logical to an open mind. Cleante often represents concepts of the Englightenment. His father represents excess.

lines 8 - 87, pages 320-321

Orgon tells his daughter Mariane that she must marry the detested Tartuffe. Dorine, the lady’s maid, constantly interrupts with her commentary.

lines 32-- 129, pages 325-328

Notice Dorine’’s asides; an aside is dramatic convention. A character delivers a brief speech in the presence of other characters who pretend not to hear the speech. It is a manner of voicing one’s thoughts for the audience, but not for the other characters.

When Orgon realizes he has misjudged Tartuffe, he over reacts by asserting he will never trust another pious man. Cleante then expounds on a principle at the heart of the beliefs of the Enlightenment: moderation.

lines 1 - 56, pages 352 on

The contrived ending serves useful purposes: it corrects all former mistakes, it gives Moliere an opportunity to flatter his patron, the SUN KING (King Louis XIV), and it increases the chances of the ban's being lifted on public production of this play. It is a version of deux ex machina, common in classical Greek plays.

The deus ex machina means god in a machine. It was a convention at the end of many classical Greek plays when a god entered in a chariot from the heavens at the end of the play and more or less said, "Be nice now. Make up and be friends. All is well."

lines 45 - 83, pages 360 on