Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Tartuffe (tahr-TEWF), a religious hypocrite and impostor who uses religious cant and practices to impose on the credulity of a wealthy man who befriends him. To acquire money and cover deceit, he talks of his hair shirt and scourge, prayers, and distributing alms. He also disapproves of immodest dress. Before his first appearance, he is reported by some to be a good man of highest worth and by others to be a glutton, a winebibber, and a hypocrite. Deciding that he wants his patron’s daughter as his wife, he uses his seeming piety to convince his host to break his daughter’s marriage plans. He then endeavors to seduce his host’s wife by holding her hand, patting her knee, fingering her lace collar, and making declarations of love to her. When his conduct is reported to the husband by his wife and their son, the foolish man forgives Tartuffe and gives the hypocrite all his property. Another attempted seduction fails when the husband, hidden, overhears all that happens and orders Tartuffe out of the house. Tartuffe, boasting that the entire property is now his, has an eviction order served on his former patron. When a police officer arrives to carry out the eviction order, the tables are turned. Tartuffe is arrested at the order of the king, who declares him to be a notorious rogue.
Orgon (ohr-GOH[N]), a credulous, wealthy man taken in by Tartuffe, whom he befriends, invites into his home, and proposes as a husband for his daughter, who already is promised to another. Defending Tartuffe against the accusations of his family and servants, he refuses to believe charges that the scoundrel has attempted to seduce his wife. He then disowns his children and signs over all his property to Tartuffe. Only later, when he hides under the table, at the urging of his wife, and overhears Tartuffe’s second attempt at seduction, is he convinced that he is harboring a hypocrite and scheming rascal. Orgon is saved from arrest...
(The entire section is 831 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Tartuffe Characters. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!