© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



by Molière

Cléante Timeline and Summary

  • Cléante attempts to convince Madame Pernelle that Tartuffe is a hypocrite. He fails.
  • Cléante greets Orgon, who has just returned from the country. He is blown off; Orgon is more interested in hearing about Tartuffe.
  • Cléante confronts Orgon and tells him he's acting like an idiot. He listens as Orgon describes what a wonderful dude Tartuffe is, but he doesn't believe it.
  • He chews Orgon out, calling him a dunce in a dozen different ways and teaching him a thing or two about the difference between true and false piety, and truth and falsehood in general.
  • He asks Orgon about Mariane's engagement to Valère. He is dismayed to hear that the marriage is postponed and that Orgon is planning "to be guided/ By Heaven's will" (1.5.35). He heads off to break the bad news to the family.
  • Much later, Cléante talks to Tartuffe about the recent falling out between Orgon and Damis. He asks Tartuffe how he, as a man of God, could not only allow Damis to be banished, but accept his inheritance as well. He questions Tartuffe's justifications for accepting the money and marrying Mariane.
  • He fails to make Tartuffe reconsider his position.
  • Cléante tells Orgon that he probably shouldn't have given Tartuffe access to the documents in his strongbox.
  • When Orgon tells Cléante that, from here on out, he'll hate all pious men, Cléante tells him he's acting like an irrational baby.
  • When Damis comes in, ready to beat up Tartuffe, Cléante tells him to stop acting like an irrational, hotheaded baby.
  • Cléante reminds everyone that Tartuffe is planning his revenge, and that they should probably come up with a plan.
  • When Monsieur Loyal shows up, Cléante tells Orgon to treat him cordially and hear him out. Once Loyal has said his piece – and made everyone angry with him – Cléante takes charge, asks for the eviction notice, and tells him to leave.
  • Cléante tells Orgon to go away with Valère, and promises to take care of the family in his absence.
  • When Tartuffe tells everyone that he has ratted out Orgon as a traitor in order to best serve the King, Cléante confronts him, asking how he could accept the inheritance of a supposed criminal. Tartuffe has nothing to say to this.
  • Cléante stops Orgon from yelling at Tartuffe, and tells him that he should, instead, hope that the hypocrite truly repents and finds God.