Moliere - tartuffe essays

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Dramatic irony - the effect caused when the audience knows more than the characters - is at the center of Tartuffe. By the time the titular character enters, the audience is well aware that he is a scheming hypocrite whose every word is to be doubted. The main effect of the dramatic irony is humor. The more Tartuffe play-acts his piety, the funnier it is to see Orgon's blindness. Further, dramatic irony helps to raise the tension, especially in scenes where characters hide to eavesdrop on a conversation. Particularly in the scenes with Elmire, the audience enjoys two levels of dramatic irony - the level of delusion reflected in Tartuffe's insistence on a pious facade, and the impending discovery of the eavesdropper. Almost every scene is imbued with some dramatic irony, which Moliere achieves by giving the audience opportunity to hear characters speak about one another. For a play mostly about deceit and the nature of appearances, it makes sense that Moliere would so fully employ this theatrical device.

The play sets forth the theme of the importance of a well-ordered soul living in a well-ordered society under the virtue of reason. The comical yet serious unraveling of Orgon’s professional and personal life at the hands of Tartuffe is the vehicle for the author’s implicit appeal for reason and order in personal interactions and societal institutions. As Molière shows, when individuals such as Orgon ignore common sense and become infatuated with charismatic figures, the results can be tragic. Orgon’s relationship with Tartuffe leads directly to the breakdown of his relationship with his son, the growth of mistrust between Orgon and his wife, personal embarrassment, and financial problems. These troubles have adverse effects on everyone in Orgon’s life and, by extension, on society as a whole. The dishonest intentions of one man wreak havoc on many lives. Through the comic manner in which he tells the story, the playwright reinforces the idea that Orgon’s difficulties could have been avoided. Tartuffe and his kind have power only when ordinary citizens willfully give up their ability to think for themselves.

Moliere - tartuffe essays

moliere - tartuffe essays

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