What are some examples in which in Tartuffe comedy is "kindly and even companionable, in the sense that it brings men together as fellow-fools and sinners, and is not only a criticism but understaning?"
1 Answer | Add Yours
The way in which humour in this play is seen as something that brings together people as "fellow-fools" and brings "not criticism, but understanding," is something that can be clearly seen in the character of Orgon in Act V, once he has realised the truth of Tartuffe, the man he has brought into his house and trusted to such a massive extent. Note what he says to Cleante when he tries to reason with Orgon about his reaction to Tartuffe and his desire to seek revenge:
What? Go easy on a man who could hide such double-dealing, such wickedness under the outward appearance of fervent piety? Someone I took under my roof as a down-and-out, a penniless beggar? That's al finished, I'll have no more to do with men of God. From now on, I will reagrd them with the most utter loathing and behave as if no treatment is too good for them!
There is immense humour in Orgon's shift from being kind and hospitable to men of God to now not trusting them as far as he can throw them. He, as Cleante says, is a man who is driven by extremes of emotion and will not seek a more moderate balance. However, at the same time, as much as the audience laughs at Orgon, the play forces them to see that just as Orgon was taken in by Tartuffe and fooled by his deception and artifice, they too have been placed in similar situations during their lives when they have allowed themselves to be taken in by others who have willfully deceived them for their own purposes. Whilst the play therefore is desperately funny, it is also desperately serious in not singling out Orgon as a fool, but seeing his tendency to trust and believe in others as a virture that can become a failing, and also seeing that this is not something that is unique to Orgon, but common to us all.
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes