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In Act III, Scene 3 of Tartuffe, the licentious Tartuffe, a stage imitator of a religious hypocrite, talks with Elmire, who wishes to discuss her husband's plans about having Tartuffe marry his daughter Mariane. However, the lecherous Tartuffe tries to use this opportunity in order to seduce her. He expresses his gratitude to Heaven for the opportunity:
TARTUFFE. My prayers have not sufficient merit to have drawn down this favour from above, but I made no vows to Heaven that did not concern your recovery.
Here Tartuffe has misused prayer for his adulterous desires. With irony, Elmire replies to this effect:
ELMIRE. Your zeal for me was too solicitous.
Tartuffe replies that he is overjoyed to find himself alone with her; for, he has "hitherto petitioned Heaven" for it.
In this passage Moliere satirizes the pious hypocrite who prays for the opportunity to sin. For, Tartuffe says that he has prayed for the chance to be alone with Elmire, clearly hoping to be able to seduce her despite his assumed piety. In the previous scene, however, he has scolded Dorine about covering her bosom, saying that "such objects hurt the soul, and usher in sinful thoughts." Now, in the next scene, evidently it is all right for him to seduce Elmire.
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