Tartuffe and Poems

1. I think that that the story of Tartuffe discusses the corruption of religion, rather that attacking religion itself. Several times within the play the characters say as much. In act V scene 1 Organ is horrified at that Tartuffe was able to so thoroughly swindle and deceive him. While speaking to Cleante he declares “I’m through with pious men; Henceforth I’ll hate the whole false brotherhood, And persecute them worse than Satan could’ (147). Cleante refutes this assertion stating that Orgon can never take “the middle course but jump(s), instead, between absurd extremes’ (147). He believes that Orgon, attempting to refrain from more such mistakes, has chosen a worse path by choosing to “judge our worthy neighbors’, the clergy, “as a whole’ (147). Cleante’s role in the play is a voice of reason. It is likely that the voice of reason shows the authors true opinions on events within the play.

I think that one of the main purposes of this play is to teach discernment to society, parishioners, and anyone else interested in religion. The take away from the play is not “distrust those holding religious power’ rather, observe them and evaluate whether they are genuine. If they do not, themselves, practice what they preach they should not be esteemed. Tartuffe is called a hypocrite. For there to be such a person as a hypocrite, there must also be someone who is genuine. This leads me to believe that Tartuffe is attacking corruption rather than religion.

2. I don’t see that Satan is a heroic figure. His role is traditionally that of the deceiver, manipulator, and father of lies. I doubt that that displaying Satan as a heroic figure would have been Victor Hugo’s intent.

Satan stands firm against the opposition of God. He is willing to lose everything for the cause of overthrowing God. Some might count these attributes as heroic. The thought of gaining ultimate power, which seems to be Satan’s wished for prize, is enough motive to rebel against God. Satan stands strong in his belief and does not attempt to return to God. Some might call this accepting the call to adventure.

Dante very clearly describes Satan as a tormenter. His location is in the lowest circle of hell, chewing on the two most despicable sinners. Satan is portrayed as a creature who wants to inflict as much pain as possible on God and people. There is no hint of heroism in Dante’s portrayal of Satan.

 

3. Reading the poems, I noticed some comparable aspects of the imagery in the poems To Sylvia, and The Village Saturday, both by Giacomo Leopardi.

Both poems contain a young girl, portrayed full of life. Each poem intertwines imagery of nature such as flowers, the blue sky, and grass. In each poem, transitions to adulthood are described as “flowering’ (457, 459). The description of “fragrant May’(457) in the first poem and the imagery of roses and violets in the second, indicate that it is the summer months in both poems.

Each poem has a transition point in imagery. In To Sylvia, this occurs when Sylvia dies. The outlook of the speaker is bleaker, describing the darkness of when winter struck, bringing Sylvia’s death. Word choice such as “coldest death’ and “stark sepulcher’ allow us to see the speaker’s despair. In The Village Saturday, the transition comes as day turns to nighttime. It is as if everyone is on alert, anticipating the morning. The speaker tells us to “listen’ to the sounds of the night as last minute preparations are made by individuals “hurrying by lamplight’ (459).

The poems differ in that in To Sylvia, the only characters are Sylvia and the speaker. A slight mention is made of ambiguous “friends’. In The Village Saturday, numerous villagers are mentioned.

 

2 thoughts on “Tartuffe and Poems

  1. sxkristoffersen

    Good analysis of Tartuffe, I also thought it was meant to show corruption rather than be anti-religious in itself. To me it was more of an objective view of hypocrisy within religion and how to determine if in fact a person is authentic in their beliefs through honest practice.

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  2. Jared

    Overall, you made some very good points. I did not really consider that a perfect example was needed, in order to identify a hypocrite and so I did not take the same point of view as you. I also agree that Satan was not necessarily a hero, when taking the side normally associated with good. I did feel that if one used “The Hero’s Journey” a fairly well defined hero could be identified in Satan’s character during the story. He has a call to adventure, supernatural aid, crossing the threshold and an ending of master of two worlds. Just some thoughts to consider anyways…

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