, Research Paper
Human Flaws of Orgon In Tartuffe
The play “Tartuffe”, by Moliere, is a work that was created to show
People a flaw, in their own human nature. There are two characters who portray, the
Main flaw, presented in the play. Both Madame Pernelle and Orgon are blinded by
The farces of Tartuffe and must be coaxed into believing the truth. The fact
That Orgon and Madame Pernelle are too weak to see the truth is the main driving
Force throughout the play. The most obvious weakness shared between Orgon and
Madame Pernelle is gullibility. The trait of gullibility can be seen as a family
Trait as suggested in an essay on “Tartuffe” : “His mother shares his capacity
For self-delusion even after Tartuffe has been found out (”We cannot always
Judge by what we see”)” (Weals). Orgon believes because Tartuffe claims to be a
Man of God he should put everything he has into Tartuffe’s hands. He proves how
Much he believes this after Damis tells him that Tartuffe was flirting with
Elmire. From this accusation Orgon replies to Damis: “I disinherit you; an empty
Purse / Is all you’ll get from me – except my curse!”. Madame
Pernelle shows the family trait that she shares with her son when she states:
“He’s a fine man, and should be listened to.” while speaking of
Tartuffe. Although they share this trait throughout the play, Orgon’s eyes are
Finally opened at the end of the play while his mother is still held by the
Farce of Tartuffe.
Although Tartuffe is portrayed as the main character of the play, Orgon is
The character who should really be paid attention to the most. As suggested in
An essay on “Tartuffe” audiences who concentrate on the character who titles the
Work may miss the author’s point: “?vitriol and spleen vented on one man
Suggests that Moliere’s satire of Orgon, nevermind Tartuffe, was steeped in
Truth.” . Orgon is the character that represents the weakness in human
Nature. This weakness is shown throughout the play. Orgon is so willing to
Entrust everything he has into the care of Tartuffe. He places Tartuffe above
The well being of his family. When he returns from his trip and asks Cleante how
The household was while he was gone, Cleante tells him that his wife had been
Very sick. Orgon’s odd response is, “Ah. And Tartuffe?”. When he hears that
Tartuffe has been eating, sleeping, and generally living well Orgon retorts with
Another peculiar response, “Poor fellow!” . Orgon demands that
Mariane give up Valere and marry Tartuffe. This again shows how Tartuffe has
Taken over due to Orgon’s weakness.:
?That’s wisely said, my Daughter. Say of him then,
That he’s the very worthiest of men,
And that you’re fond of him, and would rejoice
In being his wife, if that should be my choice.
(II, ii, 15)
This is obviously not what Mariane wants but Orgon continues to demand that
She obey him.
Although Madame Pernelle is seen as gullible, she is consistent. At the
Beginning of the play she ridicules her family and compares them to Tartuffe.
She shows how much she is taken by him in this phrase:
“Whatever he reproves
Deserves reproof. / He’s out to save your souls, and all of you / Must love him,
As my son would have you do.” (I, i , 52). Near the end of the play when Orgon
Finally admits that he was wrong Madame Pernelle still will not believe Tartuffe
Is not who he pretends to be. She consistently defends the innocence of
Tartuffe when she says: “No, my son, i’ll never bring / My self to think him
Guilty of such a thing.” (V, iii, 17)
The flaw of weakness is the major driving force in the play. With out
This flaw Tartuffe would have no one on which to practice his conniving ways.
Both Orgon and Madame Pernelle are crucial characters to make this play work.
Although Tartuffe carries the title of this play, it is well suited to focus
More attention on Orgon and Madame Pernelle and their human weakness.
It is my belief that Moliere was a moderate and against excess and obsession in all things. In Tartuffe, he has used Orgon as an example of how the obsessive need to believe can cause man to be taken in by those who would cloak themselves in, and manipulate with, those beliefs. The play is comic because Moliere shows how silly and foolish Orgon looks, when his sincere belief is contrasted with the truth, which is seen by all but his blind self
Moliere, Jean-Baptise Poquelin. “Tartuffe.” The Norton Anthology of
World Masterpieces. Ed. Maynard Mack. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1995. 307
Smaje, Andrew. “Director’s Notes”. Internet Address:
Weales, Gerald. “Orgon’s Box”. Internet Address: http://libertynet.org:80/~
Photo credits: http://www.istos.net.gr:80/html/theater/htm.erga/ergo027.htm .