PASSION: A Means of Destruction or of Restoration In Moliere’s Tartuffe, readers experience comedy, hypocrisy, and passion—all of which encompass everyday life. The French comedy portrays a man, Orgon, who lets his passion get the best of him. Orgon allows the sneaky, hypocritical Tartuffe to stay in his home until eventually Tartuffe controls him. Many try to warn Orgon—his wife, son, daughter, his brother-in-law, and even the lady-maid— that Tartuffe isn’t who he says he is. However, Orgon’s passion and blindness lead him, along with his family, to near destruction (Moliere, 107-155). The first scene of the play unfolds while Orgon is away and his family members are discussing the situation between Orgon and Tartuffe. Madame Pernelle, Orgon’s mother, proves herself as hypocritical as Tartuffe and as blind as Orgon. No doubt, Orgon gets his passion from his mother. Madame Pernelle believes that Tartuffe is nothing but a saint and can’t believe that everyone in the household is trying to push him away. In her exit speech she talks about church and scripture, but is completely wrong in what she is referring to, underlining her hypocrisy (111). She leaves in a fuss after being laughed at by Cléante and giving her maid a quick slap in the face (111). This portrayal of Madame Pernelle foreshadows Orgon’s character through most of the play. Because Madame Pernelle’s character reflects Orgon’s, it later helps him see how foolish he was acting. In Act V, scene 3, Orgon tries desperately to explain to his mother Tartuffe’s nasty ways, You’re talking nonsense. Can’t you realize I saw it; saw it; saw it with my eyes? Saw, do you understand me? Must I shout it Into your ears before you’ll cease to doubt it? (148) Those same thoughts are shared by all of the others who are trying to help Orgon see the truth. Orgon’s blind passion hinders his ability to take advice from others. He is being stubborn, or worse. He thinks he is right and he doesn’t want anyone to tell him otherwise. Once he sees the truth, however, he gets a taste of his own medicine when he tries to explain to his mother Tartuffe’s dishonesty. Dorine even says that it’s Orgon’s turn “not to be
Art and literary journal of University of Jamestown, Jamestown, N.D.