Discuss a few examples of who or what is being satirized in Tartuffe by Moliere.  

Examples of satire in Tartuffe include the character of Tartuffe, through whom Moliere satirizes religious hypocrisy, and Orgon, satirized as the gullible enabler who falls completely for Tartuffe's lies.

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Religious hypocrisy is satirized in Tartuffe through the character of Tartuffe, a con artist who pretends to be a particularly pious Christian. As other characters, like Cleante, who are not deceived, quickly notice, Tartuffe is hardly the self-denying ascetic he pretends to be: for example, he stuffs himself at dinner. Tartuffe's religious hypocrisy comes across most strongly, however, when in his lust he goes after Orgon's wife, Elmire, which is a shocking and over-the-top violation of Orgon's trust.

Orgon, however, is also the object of satire because of his extreme gullibility about Tartuffe. Every con man needs an enabler, and Orgon is completely taken in by Tartuffe's bluff. Even when the family sets a trap for Tartuffe and arranges for Orgon to witness his supposedly pious friend going after his wife sexually, this scheme comically fails. When Damis jumps the gun and accuses Tartuffe too soon, Orgon believes Damis is lying and sends him away. Tartuffe then comically and opportunistically convinces Orgon to show his trust by allowing him to spend more time alone with his wife. The play is relevant to today's world in illustrating confirmation bias and showing how difficult it is to get a person to reframe a false reality once they have emotionally invested in it.

Tartuffe is finally exposed, but not until the family and the audience are made fully aware of the damage a person like him can do.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 14, 2021
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