Tartuffe pretends to be a devout Christian with his eyes only on the spiritual realm and no interest in the worldly. He poses as ascetic—one who purposely lives with pain and deprivation to purify himself spiritually. Tartuffe pretends to have objects meant to mortify (hurt) the flesh, such as a hair shirt and a scourge, and also pretends to give all he has to the poor, saying to his own servant, Laurent:
Hang up my hair-shirt, put my scourge in place...
I'm going to the prison now, to share
My last few coins with the poor wretches there.
Orgon's household servant Dorine sees through him immediately, stating:
Dear God, what affectation! What a fake!
Tartuffe deceives no one but the blinded Orgon. For example, Tartuffe may proclaim he is an ascetic and that his eyes are on the heavenly sphere alone, wanting nothing earthly, but the family watches aghast as he stuffs himself at dinner on such rich foods as partridge, mutton, and wine, then falls heavily asleep. He thus shows himself to be a glutton and slothful, two of the seven deadly sins.
Although he pretends to be spiritual, he nevertheless talks Orgon into allowing him to marry his daughter Mariane. He also lusts after Orgon's wife, though he blames her for his attraction to her because she—he falsely claims!—seems spiritual ("heavenly") to him, saying to her:
when one sees your heavenly allurements the heart surrenders, and does not reflect...
Tartuffe plots to have both of Orgon's children disinherited and persuades Orgon to sign over his property to him. Obviously, his many actions to obtain wealth, food, drink, power, comfort, and sex show that his words of piety are hypocritical and means to a worldly end.