Tartuffe by Moliere: I am writing a paper on trust/distrust and loyalty/betrayal. I needed a topic and was thinking it should be shorter than that .

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Perhaps the theme of Deception will encompass the elements you mention above.

Certainly, deception is at the root of the conflicts in the farce, Tartuffe. With his deceptive designs, the religious poseur Tartuffe wreaks havoc among the family members of his main victim, Orgon. For, his lies and hypocrisy cause Orgon to turn against his own family in thought and action. This poseur Tartuffe tricks Orgon into giving him money and considering betrothing his daughter to him, as well as into refusing to believe his wife when she reports Tartuffe's attempts to seduce her.

In Act I, Scene 5, for instance, Orgon's brother-in-law and the voice of reason, Cleante listens to the praises of Tartuffe, then asks Orgon,

CLEANTE: Is it possible that a man can be so bewitching at this time of day as to make you forget everything for him?

Further, Cleante explains to Orgon that Tartuffe is simply a religious hypocrite, whose intention is deception:

CLEANTE: Those slaves of interest who make a trade of godliness....show an uncommon zeal for the next world in order to make their fortunes in this, who, with great affectation and earnestness, daily recommend solitude, while they live in courts....I believe you are imposed on by a very false gloss.

Even the waiting-maid to Orgon's daughter, Dorine, is aware of Tartuffe's deceit and she encourages Orgon to think through his desire that his daughter marry this impostor:

DORINE: For what reason would you go, with all your wealth, to choose a beggar for a son-in-law--

and she points to his inconsistent behavior and hypocrisy. Nevertheless, Orgon refuses to use his rational powers; instead, he continues to place his faith in the hypocrite Tartuffe. It is only when he himself witnesses Tartuffe trying to seduce his wife that Orgon comes to his senses.

Deceived by Tartuffe, Orgon exemplifies the line from Jeremiah 5:21--"They have eyes, but they see not, ears, but they hear not." Tartuffe's promise of spiritual reward completely deceives Orgon until he realizes that the impostor is far from saintly.

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