What are some quotations and examples of false piety in "Tartuffe"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act I of "Tartuffe," the grandmother argues the merits of the "pious man," Tartuffe.  The grandson, Damis, declares that Tartuffe is a censorious bigot.  In Scene II of Act I, the granddaughter's maid, Dorine, observes, " People whose own conduct is the most ridiculous are always ready to detract from that of others."

This is exactly what Tartuffe does.  When Orgon first meets him and offers Tartuffe presents and money, Tartuffe refuses them.  In Act I, Scene V, Organ affirms the piety of his friend, " [Tartuffe] calls every trifle in himself a sin; he is scandalised at the smallest thing imaginable..."  Tartuffe pulls a lace handerchief from the Puritan record, Pilgrim's Progress.

Later in Act III, Scene II, Tartuffe scolds Dorine to cover her bosom, but in Scene III he admires that of Elmire, Orgon's wife, and suggests sexual flirtations between them:  "it can be no ordinary satisfaction, madame, to find myself alone with you...the heart surrenders, and reasons no more...the sallies of passion."

Damis overhears this conversation, so he informs his father. Before Orgon, Tartuffe feigns piety saying that he will take all the blame for Damis's claim: "I had rather suffer any harship than that he should get the slightest hurt on my account."  Tartuffe skewers the incident as Damis having fabricated the entire incident:  "If I must on my knees ask forgiveness for him..."

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