What do Dorine (in Tartuffe) and Sor Juana reveal about women's status during the Enlightenment?

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The two women, Dorine in Tartuffe, and Sor Juana, were influenced by the Age of Enlightenment.

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Dorine, in Moliere's play, Tartuffe, and Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz both shed light on the status of women during the Enlightenment.

Dorine is a lady's made to Orgon's daughter, Mariane. When Orgon, on a whim, decides his engaged daughter should now marry Tartuffe, a conman who has...

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endeared himself with Orgon with the pretense of a pious nature, Dorine stands up to the master of the house to tell him he is wrong. She also promises Mariane that if a plan must be created to circumvent her father's plans so that Mariane can still marry as she pleases, Dorine will arrange it.

Sor Juana, although a cloistered nun, was extremely intelligent and spoke her mind  on a variety of subjects. She wrote poetry, essays and plays during the 17th Century. Due to her outspoken nature, and some of the less secular topics she wrote about, she was censored; at this point, she stopped writing, spending the rest of her life in service to others.

Literary historians cannot pin the advent of the Age of Enlightenment to a specific time, but an estimation places it between 1660 and 1685. This would have been during the time Sor Juana was writing in New Spain (Mexico); Moliere wrote his play, Tartuffe, during Louis XVI reign in France in the mid-17th Century until the start of the 18th Century. His character of Dorine would have been influenced as, obviously, was Sor Juana.

The term “Enlightenment” refers to the belief by the movement’s contributors that they were leaving behind the dark ignorance and blind belief that characterized the past. The freethinking writers of the period sought to evaluate and understand life by way of scientific observation and critical reasoning rather than through uncritically accepted religion, tradition, and social conventions.

Therefore, we can see why this movement would have changed the face of Europe. The seat of the movement was in France, though the effects of this new philosophy spread throughout Europe and even into the New World. It threatened the power of the Roman Catholic Church. And although the Church tried to stop the "philosophes" with censorship and violent punishment, the philosophes continued unchecked.

Salons were organized affairs, where though eating took place:

"the purpose [of them was] to self-satisfy the educational needs of the women who started them."

Women were active in these events, often hosting them at their homes. They also were the overseers of conversations—

Women were able to take this position within the salons because of their gentle, polite, civil nature.


The salons were a forum where elite, well-educated women might continue their learning in a place of civil conversation while governing the political discourse, and a place where people of all social orders may interact.

These meetings often brought people of a variety of social levels together. Coffee houses also fulfilled the same purpose.

With the sense that women were, in fact, taking part in these meetings "to self-satisfy [their] educational needs," Moliere presents Dorine as a woman who is intelligent and intuitive; Sor Juana was an living example of a woman who strenuously pushed, against parents, society and Church, to become educated and continue to follow her desire to learn. Based on these details, these women were strongly affected by the Age of Enlightenment.

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