In Tartuffe, describe the conflict between Mariane and Valere and who is to blame and why?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Tartuffe, the conflict between Mariane and Valere comes about because of her father's, Orgon's, betrayal in reneging on his permission for Mariane's marriage to Valere and insistence that Mariane marry the criminal and hypocrite Tartuffe. Valere hears about the announcement of Mariane's engagement to Tartuffe and demands an explanation from Mariane.

Mariane is devastated by her father's order but is too afraid of him and obedient to challenge him and insist on marrying Valerie, even though she tells Dorine that she will die before marrying Tartuffe. When Valere demands an explanation from Mariane, she can do no better than to pretend to be cold toward him and now disinterested in marriage to him.

The blame for the conflict between them can't be laid to Valere because he is the innocent, uniformed, betrayed party in the situation. When receiving the shocking news, he acts honorably by seeking an explanation. It may be said he carries blame from responding to Mariane with a pretense of disinterestedness on his own part, but whereas that may have deepened the pain of the conflict, it did not cause it.

The blame might be cast on Mariane because she pretended to no longer love Valerie but her actions may have been to spare his agony rather than to prolong it and, as an engaged woman, she had to act toward her past love so as to avoid scandal. The only one who can be given blame for the conflict between Mariane and Valerie is Orgon. He is blamable for breaking the engagement, forcing his daughter into unhappiness and being so mean-hearted and intimidating that Mariane feared to insist on marrying Valere.

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