Orgon, the patriarch of a rich Parisian family falls under the spell of Tartuffe, a self-righteous hypocrite. The family's attempts to convince Orgon of Tartuffe's unsavory nature fail, and Orgon decides he would like Tartuffe to marry his daughter Mariane – despite the fact that she is already engaged to Valère. Mariane wants nothing to do with this, but she is unwilling to stand up to her father.
Tartuffe is content to marry into Orgon's family, but he also lusts after Orgon's wife, Elmire. When his attempt at seduction fails, Elmire makes a deal with him: as long as he tells Orgon to let Mariane marry Valère, she won't tell Orgon what happened. Damis – who's been hiding in the closet the whole time – won't stand for such an agreement, and insists upon telling his father the truth. Orgon doesn't believe him, and instead disinherits him and banishes him from the family home. He gives Tartuffe exclusive rights to the family fortune and pushes up the wedding date to that very night.
Elmire convinces Orgon that she can show him that Tartuffe is wicked. She "seduces" Tartuffe while Orgon hides under a table and watches. Once Orgon has seen enough he confronts Tartuffe, who vows to get revenge. Orgon realizes only too late that he has put himself in a bad position: Tartuffe has the rights to his property and a set of very damaging documents. Tartuffe's plans are revealed: his representative, Monsieur Loyal shows up at the house and tells Orgon he's about to be evicted. Valère shows his loyalty to Orgon when he comes to help Orgon flee the country; he has heard that Tartuffe is on the way to arrest him. Soon after, Tartuffe arrives with a police officer. He has shown Orgon's documents to the King and expects Orgon to be taken to prison. The police officer arrests Tartuffe instead, and explains the truth of the matter. Tartuffe is shown to be a longtime criminal. Orgon is rewarded for past services to the King. He agrees to let Valère marry Mariane.