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

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The vast discrepancy between words and deeds is obvious throughout the play. As Cleante puts it, “truly pious people… are not the ones who make the biggest show.” Tartuffe—who does make a big show—is obviously not truly pious. Tartuffe is constantly asserting how devout he is, and Orgon, in whose house he is a long-term guest, always believes him. Cleante and others are not readily convinced.

Tartuffe continues to manifest his religious calling. When questioned about it, he turns the tables and blames Nature or the other person.

One example occurs when Tartuffe is alone with Elmire, Orgon’s wife. He manifests that he has only the “purest motives”—an innocent, divinely inspired admiration for her. He also admits that her physical charms are attractive to him. Tartuffe justifies his behavior by saying that everyone is human and that, as a devout man, he struggles against temptation more than most. Her beauty or “heavenly allurements,” not his shortcomings, are to blame for the attraction.

I am not the less human for being devout….Madam, after all, I am no angel…you must blame your own lovely charms.

After Damis tells his father of Tartuffe’s behavior, Tartuffe feigns contrition when he speaks with Orgon. Still maintaining his devoutness, he also insists that he will not be swayed by the sin of pride. He criticizes himself more harshly than he expects Damis to do, trusting that his protestations will keep Orgon on his side.

Yes, brother, I am wicked, I am guilty,
A miserable sinner, steeped in evil…
Whatever wrong
They find to charge me with, I'll not deny it
But guard against the pride of self-defence…
Alas! and though all men believe me godly,
The simple truth is, I'm a worthless creature.

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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.

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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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