Molière wrote Tartuffe not to condemn organized religion or religious people but rather to condemn hypocrisy and to instruct audiences, through the use of humor, on the importance of moderation, common sense, and clear thinking in all areas of life. Although the play was originally condemned as an outright attack on religion and devout people, a proper reading suggests just the opposite. Religion is not the problem; rather, the misuse of religion for personal gain at the expense of innocent, unsuspecting people is Molière’s concern. Works such as Tartuffe in fact help to protect and promote religion by exposing impostors for who they really are and demonstrating the real danger they pose to society when they go unchallenged.
The play’s major emphasis is on the silly yet serious results of failing to act with common sense. The reactions of the various characters of the play to the hypocrite, Tartuffe, serve to remind the audience of the importance of clear thinking in a world where some people will take advantage of simple thinking and blind trust. The play reinforces the golden virtue of “moderation in all things.” Excess, even in service of the most sacred faith, leads to ridiculous conclusions and potentially catastrophic actions.
The comic way in which the story unfolds, from seemingly harmless simple belief about religious doctrine to eventual trust in the absurd notion that Tartuffe should be in control of the family’s...
(The entire section is 604 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Tartuffe Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!