Questions and Answers: Act IV

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1. Why doesn’t Cléante think that Tartuffe is a true Christian?

2. By Act IV, what is Orgon’s main motive in marrying his daughter to Tartuffe?

3. Why does Orgon wait so long in appearing from under the table?

4. What tone does Elmire adopt with her husband when he finally emerges from under the table?

5. Why doesn’t Tartuffe attempt to use reverse-psychology anymore?

1. A true Christian would preach forgiveness for Damis and not accept an inheritance that is not morally his. Tartuffe has no satisfactory response to these charges.

2. Orgon wants to spite his family. He considers them ungrateful. He is also suffering from a religious complex; from his language, he wants to sacrifice his daughter much the way saints sacrifice themselves: “Marry Tartuffe, and mortify your flesh!”

3. There is no simple answer to this question. Most likely, Molière drags out the scene to maximize comedic effect. Orgon has been duped for so long that it is only natural to drag out the scene to emphasize how badly he has been fooled. The extended seduction and rebuff gives the actor who plays Tartuffe an opportunity to ham up the part. He can constantly grapple and paw Elmire while giving a speech on piety. The reader should always remember that Tartuffe is a comedy.

4. In ironic language, Elmire mocks her husband for how badly he has been duped up until that scene, even resorting to quoting Tartuffe’s seduction line (prove “concretely”):

What, coming out so soon? How premature!
Get back in hiding, and wait until you’re sure.
Stay till the end, and be convinced completely;
We mustn’t stop till things are proved concretely.

5. Orgon has signed over his entire estate to Tartuffe and also given him an incriminating letter. Tartuffe feels that he has all he needs to take complete control over Orgon’s property. There is no longer any need to play a role.

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