Category Archives: Week 11

Tartuffe, Romanticism, Heine, Leopardi, and Hugo

1. Tartuffe is not anti-religious. I believe that Moliere uses the character of Tartuffe to bring attention to the blind following people have towards religion and the way that it can be used to manipulate people if they are not careful. It is not the religious ideals that are being attacked in this play, but the way people are easily swayed to do things if it is in the name of religion. I think that this play is more of a warning to who have chosen the path of religion to not be oblivious to what is happening around them and to not be afraid to question those who they look up to in the church, because after all, we are all still humans and we do make mistakes.

2. Hugo’s Satan could be considered a heroic figure in that he does not willingly accept defeat. He continues to fight throughout his fall and even when he is all the way into the abyss. He continues to try and find a way out of his demise. Hugo’s account of Satan differs from that of Dante because his depiction is of an active being as opposed to a very stagnant one. Hugo depicts a Satan who, as mentioned before, is fighting his demise, as seen by the words associated with motion. Another aspect that shows his activeness is how he is creating, not on purpose, by speaking words against God. Every curse he speaks is given a name of a person or place that commits a sin which is given a punishment.

3. In Heine’s poems “A pine is sanding lonely” and “Ah, death is like the long cool night” he uses nature imagery. In the first he utilizes things that are associated with loneliness and bareness. These include a lone pine, North, bare, ice, snow, lonely, silent, and rocky. In the second poem the imagery is associated with nighttime and sleeping. These words include night, sleepy, tired, bed, nightingales, and dreams. Both poems evoke a sense of longing by using objects that are easily imagined and identified with and using contrast to show what is left to be desired. In the first poem it is the contrast between the cold and loneliness on the plateau versus the warm Eastern land. The second poem contrasts the liveliness of day with the calmness of night.

Dehumanized Tartuffe, Humanized Satan, and Bittersweet Poems


Tartuffe definitely only attacks the corruptions of religion. Moliere’s characters  Cleante and Dorine are written as counterpoints and examples of proper, decent religion. They both have lengthy speeches about men that are religious and not hypocritical being the pinnacle of humanity. When Orgon finds out about Tartuffe’s attempted seduction (or actual sexual assault, depending on the staging of the production) he condemns all pious men. Cleante then scolds him and says that if you can only be one extreme between condemning and trusting all pious men, it’s better to ere on the side of trust because most religious people are good and trustworthy. I believe that this is Moliere writing in the central message of his play.


Hugo’s Satan goes through the majority of the steps of the Hero’s Journey. I’m missing a clear goddess or temptress, but most of the trials other than that fit. Hugo’s Satan is also represented in a more human way. His emotions are presented for the audience to empathize with, which is a fascinating way to write about the devil. Hugo’s version of Hell seems a more elegant and simplistic version than the one presented by Dante. All of the levels and historical figures were almost lavish and distracting compared to the one guide of Satan in Hugo’s version.


The Village Saturday  and  A Young Man Loves a Maiden are connected in a subtle way that is fascinating to examine. I have trouble describing why the two are connected, but I felt so strongly that they were after reading them that I had to choose the two to examine. Both poems feel wistful.  The Village  is about innocence and village life. Its style is more dense and flowery than  A Young Man   but nonetheless, it expressed two parts of a story. Innocence and simple joys described in The Village  are then wasted by young adults of  A Young Man.  I don’t think it’s an entirely pessimistic comparison, though. Both poems feel like an eternal story that is repeated and shared by all generations. And though neither ends completely happily, the cycle continues and humans connect through the shared experience. Though the young man has his heart broken, he will have children someday that live through the simple pleasures of childhood, rush into adulthood, and also have their hearts broken. The cycle is filled with sadness and joy – the definition of bittersweet.

Lesson 11

I don’t believe that Tartuffe is actually anti-religious. While the play does point out a lot of issues with clergy and how they can abuse their power its true purpose to teach men the issues of hypocrisy. To further this claim Cleante warns Orgon not to be angry at the truly pious men, but at the hypocrite Tartuffe for taking advantage of their worth.

There are major differences from Dantes version of Satan to Victor Hugo’s portrayal. For Dante Satan is the embodiment of evil and seems to be a mindless monster. In Victor Hugo’s Ex nox Facta est we see a different portrayal of Satan pertaining to his fall. This version of Satan is much more humanlike, showing remorse, “the rebel then knew regret.’ Satan in this portrayal certainly undergoes a hero’s journey during his fall; he starts with his transformation from angel to demon. By the time he reaches the end of his journey he has completed his transformation by allowing himself to be consumed by anger and resentment of his punishment.

I thought the difference in imagery from the Silesian Weavers and The Village Saturday was interesting. When reading the Silesian Weavers you can tell that Heine is taking on a very utilitarian point of view of society, while Leopardi seems to take a very individualist approach. I enjoyed the message of The Village Saturday, it painted a nice picture of society, and warns its reader take advantage of the time given to you. The Silesian Weavers gives a different look of society, in which its people are abused and mistreated. But both leave the reader with the call to seize the day.

Tartuffe, Romanticism: Heine, Leopardi, Hugo

1.   Tartuffe is a comedy that uses sarcasms and exaggerations to expose the behavior of a hypocrite religious man, who managed to deceived the man (Orgon) that picked him up from the streets, and rescued him from poverty.  The writing piece provides a lesson to the society in how corruption can be infiltrated, even in Religion, in that a person can use faith to manipulate situations and to take advantage of people.  Tartuffe personality was of great mismatch between his truly intentions and his actions.  He portrayed a religious person, behaved and talked like one in front of others, especially Orgon, but his true intentions were of ambition and power.  It also provides with the opposing view of a true religious person, Cleante, which throughout the comedy, it preaches and encourages the family to act with self-discipline, compassion, composure and justice, the virtues of a devoted person.  Therefore, it is not about being anti-religious, is about teaching in a society, where the social order was dependent completely in the actions that others can see, that actions can be deceiving and not always depict the reality of the situations.  The social order and justice, cannot be dependent in merely actions; motives and intentions should also matter.

  1. In all this writing, I don’t see Satan as a heroic figure at all.  To me it just describes a spirit that was sentenced to prison.  The images of the poem of Victor Hugo are just describing the devil falling from Heaven into the abyss, and being transformed to a grotesque figure as he descends. In Dante and Hugo, both, described satan as being punished by God, for rebellion.  The difference is that in Dante, the devil’s sentence is to punish all the ones that have been traitors to God himself, such as Judas.

3.   In both poems, “To Himself’ by Leopardi, and “A death is like the long cool night’ by Heine, describes how sometimes fate in life makes people tired of living, makes them want to die.  In the first mentioned poem, life is compared to a vacuum, in which at the end, nothing is gained, everything is lost to fate.    In the second poem, life is being compared to a “sultry day’, in which the heavy sun and humidity asphyxiate you, because of the routine of the day as well as life problems depress people.  Both poems, describe the difficulty in having control of one’s life, because we always have to deal with unexpected circumstances that fate brings us.  It also demonstrates how humanity loses hope due to this effort and the frustrating truth, in that at the end, one has to leave everything behind when death knocks in our door.

Discussion 11

1.    Is Tartuffe in fact anti-religious, or does it only attack corruptions of religion?

I would not say that Tartuffe is anti-religious, but rather a indirect, sarcastic way of informal writing towards religious systems. Mainly targeting the corruptions of the religious sectors. Hypocrisy was the main topic, this was found in the main leaders of the church. Just like any system having a hypocrite, as a leader will put the system into shambles. I think what is happening in the script is a true comical reflection of the somewhat growing flawed systems that we have in our society today. I think this sort of like the last one where we talked about politics. It has that same feel to it where it is up in the air and depends on how you perceive the information.

2. In what respects is Hugo’s Satan a heroic figure? How does Hugo’s account differ from Dante’s?

In Hugo’s Satan I am torn between yes and no because there are both similarities and differences. In Hugo’s Satan it is about an angel who lost its wings and has fallen to the “dark side’ where as in Dante’s Satan it starts from the decent to Hell. They both show characteristics of the “heroic journey’ but do not follow the same paths along the way. When comparing the two stories I will have to say that I have a neutral feeling on Hugo’s Satan being heroic or not.

3. Discuss and compare the images in any two poems assigned for this week.

In the comparison of the two poems “A Pine is Standing Lonely’ by Heine and “The Infinite’ by Leopardi I found two poems that were full of loneliness and a sense of adventure. In the poem by Leopardi, we find a man who is upon a hill that has treated him well. He is comfortable there yet he looks out to the sky and wants to reach new limits, he wants his “heart on the edge of fear.’ He wants adventure and a new destination. This is also seen in “A Pine is Standing Lonely,’ a sad, cold, snow blanketed, pine tree dreams of a warm sunny place as a new adventure, a new destination where his solitude can continue.

Tartuffe and Hugo

1. Is Tartuffe in fact anti-religious or does it only attack corruptions of religion?

I really think Moliere was bringing the corruption in religion to the forefront with “Tartuffe”. Tartuffe is the complete opposite of what formalized religion says you should be – and yet he had the respect of two of the biggest (and richest) names in town. He hoodwinked them but good. Of course, at the end, both Orgon and Madame Parnelle end up realizing what Tartuffe is (with a little bit of help from those around them), and Tartuffe is carted off to prison – an example of Moliere pointing out that people can see the corruption among the religious leaders of the time and are watching.

2. In what respects is Hugo’s Satan a heroic figure? How does Hugo’s account differ from Dante’s?

Hugo’s Satan is more like the heroes we’ve read about previously – most of “The Hero’s Journey” stages are fairly recognizable here. That being said, I really don’t like calling Satan a hero, even in the literary sense! Dante’s Satan was a really miserable, almost unrecognizable figure, made up of three horrible people suffering for their sins, while Hugo’s Satan is more along the conventional religious version. Satan is one person (a fallen angel) and is ruler of an abyss from which he’ll never escape.

3. Discuss and compare the images in any of the two poems assigned for this week.
I chose Heine’s “A Pine is Standing Lonely” and Leopardi’s “The Infinite”. Both of these poems invoke nature at it’s finest. Trees (or lack of them), deserts, horizons, and hedgerows are all present in these two poems. But while Heine describes nature as a somewhat lonely place (“A pine is standing lonely In the North on a bare plateau”), Leopardi describes it more as a place to find peace (“Always to me beloved was this linely hillside”).

DQ 11

1. Is Tartuffe in fact anti-religious, or does it only attack corruptions of religion?

I didn’t find Tartuffe to be anti-religious. From the story and what I read through the play it seemed to me he was more against the corruption established by religion. Tartuffe used comedy and sarcasm to take stabs at the faults and flaws of religious institutions such as the churches.

2. In what respects is Hugo’s Satan a heroic figure? How does Hugo’s account differ from Dante’s?

I found Hugo’s Satan to be a heroic figure because of a previous lesson “A Hero’s Journey,” based on the traits that make a hero. Hugo’s Satan is like the ruler of the underdogs, he started out as a “nobody” angel and worked his way down I should say, to become the ruler of hell. The difference between the two I found was how hell was described. In Dantes journey it was described as different levels. In this version it was just described as this dark abyss.

3. Discuss and compare the images in any two poems assigned for this week.

The two poems I chose were “A young man loves a maiden” and “Ah death is like the long cool night.” The language used in the two stories is incredibly dark and depressing. The first talks about a young man who cheats basically and leaves this maiden. The maiden gets anary and out of this anger marries the first man she meets just to “get back” at the young man. In the second poem it was using a day as a life cycle. When it was day there was life and as it reached night time the life was over there was no more “fun” to be had during the sultry life.

Tartuffe, Hugo and Some Poetry

1. Is Tartuffe in fact anti-religious, or does it only attack corruptions of religion?

"Tartuffe and Elmire"  during a 2011 production directed by Jim O'Connor.

“Tartuffe and Elmire” during a 2011 production directed by Jim O’Connor.

Moliere’s “Tartuffe” isn’t anti-religious in my understanding.   If it was taken so at the time, I would think that it was due to a tendency for the “religious” of the time to dwell on outward displays of pious faith.   I am of the opinion that Moliere is attacking the “corruptions of religion” or the hypocrisy found any time that we rely on our own “works” of piety to ensure us that we are saved from the fates of hell.   The play itself is merely a familiar story of a deceptive, scoundrel, swindling a dupe out of his wealth.

"The Musketeer", painted by Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier in 1871.  A Romantic French artist, you can imagine the costume in the paining is accurate and one can almost imagine this as young Damis, ready to run Tartuffe through!

“The Musketeer”, painted by Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier in 1871. A Romantic French artist, you can imagine the costume in the paining is accurate and one can almost imagine this as young Damis, ready to run Tartuffe through!

But the pious nature of the character “Tartuffe” could appear to be anti-religious if interpreted to an extreme.   But I read nothing in the text that attacks Christ or Christianity.   Even Christ himself attacked such hypocrisy.   It is the foundation of the Christian faith that one not live the kind of life that Tartuffe was pretending to live.   Christ called such men a “nest of vipers”.   Yet, they are found in power in every form of religion.   Religion is not faith.   It is man’s imperfect   response to faith and therefore can become corrupt.

What really impressed me was how the portrayal of such characters is so accurate.   No wonder the play was banned.   I think too that other French writers were influenced by Moliere’s opinion, or it was at least a widely held response.   Dumas’ arch enemy of D’Artagnan, the Cardinal of France is very much this type of man and represents all that Dumas felt was hypocritical of the Catholic power of the period.   Unfortunately Moliere’s portrayal of religious deception is still striking home today.

2. In what respects is Hugo’s Satan a heroic figure? How does Hugo’s account differ from Dante’s?

Victor Hugo, sketched by Auguste Rodin, 1840 - 1917.  A rebel himself, Rodin was known as the father of modern sculpture.

Victor Hugo, sketched by Auguste Rodin, 1840 – 1917. A rebel himself, Rodin was known as the father of modern sculpture.

To refer to Hugo’s Satanic figure as a “hero” in a literary sense is to me, a weak projection.   Yes, like a hero, there is a journey, namely a thunderous plunge into the “abyss” of Biblical fame.   Like a tragic hero, there is the immense loss and despair expressed as Satan realizes the extreme depth of the darkness that his rebellion has led him to.   The obstacles in his way are perhaps represented by the mountain peaks he has to cross and the endless distance between himself and the single spark of light he pursues.   Norton’s introduction refers to him as a “powerful rebel”.   And certainly in the short work, “Et nox facta est”, he is the central, tragic figure.   In this I agree, there is great tragedy as he is thrown down at God’s command, head first like a rocket, groping for something to stop his plunge.   He had no idea how dark, dark could be.   No concept of existence without the Creator present.   He shivers for the first time ever.   He desperation to reach the light defies his own rebellious nature, which is a common feature of defiance, I think.   I’m not sure it is clear where he is in the abyss.   Is it earth just after the creation? In Genesis, it says that after he willed Earth into being, “the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.” (Genesis 1:2).   Hugo, it seems, has borrowed this imagery.   Of course, in the days that followed, we know that God caused there to be light.   But what is a day to God?   Can a day be ten thousand years?   So, I find it difficult to reconcile whether Hugo is speaking of the original fall of Satan, ( It seems he is because he speaks of things yet to come in the life of Christ), but this place he plunges is not known to us, unless it is the earth, before light.   Interesting, but I don’t like to give that devil any more attention than is necessary, he thrives on it.

3. Discuss and compare the images in any two poems assigned for this week.

Artwork by Kathe Kollwitz in 1897, showing the 1844 rebellion as a group of weavers heads to the owner's property, bent on destruction.

Artwork by Kathe Kollwitz in 1897, showing the 1844 rebellion as a group of weavers heads to the owner’s property, bent on destruction.

Of the Heine and Leopardi poem selections in Norton, the two that attracted my attention the most are Heine’s, “Silesian Weavers” and Leopardi’s, “To Himself“.     All of their poems in the text seemed to run along similar lines.   But these two could easily run together, as the pain of poverty and hunger gives way to the last hope fading. Despair overtakes the hopeful revolutionary as rebellion is crushed and stamped out with violent reprisals.   Of course, I am taking some editorial license here, for while we know what the “Sileasian Weavers” was about, we do not necessarily know the background to Leopardi’s “To Himself”.   In “To Himself“, the line, “…the last illusion is dead“, sounds very much like a disillusioned revolutionary.   “…not only hope is gone, but the desire to be deceived as well.”   Such words speak volumes of life’s disappointments, that you had somehow convinced yourself would be different.   But in the end, you found that you were a fool to believe as you did and hope fades into bitter disillusionment.   In the Silesian Weavers, the despair that leads to revolution is seen in each stanza, “Grinding their teeth,”, “With cold in our bones, with hunger reeling”, and “Who wrings the last penny out of our hides and lets us be shot like dogs besides–“.   Heine’s poem is simple, yet powerful in its imagery.   The two make a good pair.


Discussion 11

  1. I don’t think the play Tartuffe was anti-religion but it did point out the corruption within the church. It was a comedy that pointed out the hypocrisy that was within the Catholic Church. However I think that in general (not always) when someone publically points out the flaws of an institution, then that institution, especially churches as a whole, become very offended. Then their defensive is to say that the person just doesn’t believe in God and/or religion.
  1. Hugo’s Satan is a heroic figure because he goes through a journey that is similar to “The Hero’s Journey’ that we learned earlier this semester. I found it kind of interesting that this poem made the journey of Satan like a hero instead of some horrible creature or person that just appeared. The picture of Hell that is in Hugo, is more simplistic in the description where as, in Dante the author describes many different levels of hell.
  1. Heine’s poem A Pine is Standing Alone and Leopardi’s poem The Infinite both talked about loneliness. The first line of Heine’s poem was, “A pine is standing lonely’ and the first line of Leopardi’s poem was, “This lonely hill has always been so dear.’ That brings up my next comparison, which is that, both poems talk about nature. Although the second poem I mentioned was lengthier, the first poem used more “fluffy’ words to describe the scenery. By fluffy I mean not as simple, and everyday use words. I found an interesting comparison between the two poems I selected to write about was that in the poem, A Pine is Standing Alone, the scenery is described as a certain place on the globe. The poem has lines like “in the North’ and “Far away in the Eastern land,’ both of which give the reader an idea of where the trees are relative to the globe. In the poem, The Infinite it does not give so much direction in the description of the scenery, it adds a little bit more of a mystic feel to the poem.

Tartuffe; Romanticism: Heine, Leopardi, Hugo

1) I did not see any evidence in Tartuffe that would lead me to characterize the work as being anti-religious. I instead would say Tartuffe was a work meant to draw attention to perceived wrongs which occur at the hands of men of the Church. The belief was that unscrupulous individuals of the Church were all too often acting out under their moral presumption to do what is right in the eyes of God, but the result of their actions to the questioning observer appeared to indicate that these actions were related more to self-serving machinations.

My reasoning is apparent because Madam Pernelle and Orgon were two individuals who were totally swept away by Tartuffe’s image of righteousness. The others in the story had apprehensions about Tartuffe, but their beliefs could not sway Orgon or Madam Pernelle until it was almost too late. In the end, Tartuffe got what was coming to him, and everyone in the story grew more aware of the potential for wolves that lurked in sheep’s clothing.

2) I interpret Hugo’s Satan to be one who has fallen into the abyss, and no matter what he has done to try and absolve himself of his actions or transgression, he keeps falling further and deeper, and God’s light keeps setting far off into the distance. He is even depicted as flying towards the light for ten thousand years. This was part out of will, part out of necessity as he had no physical location to stop and perch. This seems to mean that despite one’s actions in life, if that person were not judged to be moral in the afterlife, they will be forever punished for not making better choices while they were alive on Earth.

Hugo’s account seems to revolve around Satan himself, and not around the various worldly figures we saw throughout history that Dante observed suffer eternal damnation in Hell. We never saw the Devil trying to get out of Hell, but rather a steady decent towards him of all who perished to Hell after death, And we saw the Devil placed at the center of Earth, whereas Hugo demonstrated that he could only continue to fall further and further into the abyss.

3) In To Sylvia, we see a narrative directed at the author’s young girl who sadly died at a young age. She brought much joy to the author in her life, and he cannot bring himself to bear with the thought of such a young girl, with all the joy in her eyes in anticipation of life ahead, being robbed essentially before those dreams are fulfilled. In The Village Saturday, the author counsels a young boy of the joy ahead of him as he will soon enter into adolescence and adulthood. The author advices him to not agonize over experiencing every little joy too soon however, as everything will come with time. The message seems to be as if the author almost envies the boy, because he wishes himself he could undertake life’s pleasures all over again. What we see in both of these poems is an embrace of worldly adventures and experiences, and not an emphasis on enjoying what paradise in the afterlife has to offer those who live life righteously in accordance with strict Christian practices.