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Orgon returns from the country. He ignores Cléante's greeting and asks Dorine to tell him what's happened in his absence.
When she tells him that Elmire has been sick, he doesn't seem very concerned. Instead, he keeps asking about Tartuffe. Though Tartuffe seems to be in good health, Orgon keeps calling him poor fellow.
By the time Dorine finishes telling Orgon the news, she can't stop herself from laughing at his foolishness.
When she leaves, Cléante confronts Orgon and tells him he's acting like an idiot, that he's being taken in by a fraud.
Orgon tells him to shut up, and tries to explain why Tartuffe is so great.
When Cléante doesn't buy Orgon's claims, Orgon gets angry and tells him he'd better watch out – his comments are impious.
The more Cléante tries to explain why Tartuffe is a bad guy, the less Orgon listens.
When Orgon moves to leave, Cléante asks him about Mariane's wedding.
Orgon confirms that he has postponed the wedding, but he won't say anything more. He merely tells Cléante that he'll be guided by "Heaven's will" (1.5.32).
Orgon calls Mariane in to have a discussion. He checks for eavesdroppers before proceeding.
He tells her that she must obey his will, which she agrees to do, then asks her what she thinks of Tartuffe.
Mariane tells Orgon that she'll think of Tartuffe what he wants her to think.
Orgon tells her that she should think he's a great guy, and that she'd love to be his wife.
Mariane can't believe what she hears, and Orgon can't believe that she can't believe it. He repeats what he's just said, and tells her, finally, that she will marry Tartuffe.
At this point Dorine interrupts their conversation.
She tells him that she's heard a ridiculous rumor, something about Mariane marrying Tartuffe. This angers Orgon. He tells her that it's not ridiculous, that it will happen.
Orgon then attempts to talk to Mariane, but Dorine keeps interrupting him.
The more he tries to praise Tartuffe, the more Dorine contradicts and makes fun of him.
Orgon tells Mariane that Valère seems less than pious, while Tartuffe is perfectly devout.
Eventually, Orgon gets so fed up that he threatens to slap Dorine.
She continues to annoy him until he does try to hit her, but he misses her.
Orgon leaves in a huff.
When Damis tells Orgon that he's just seen Tartuffe try to seduce Elmire, he doesn't believe him – despite the fact that Tartuffe admits to doing it.
He kicks out Damis and disinherits him.
At this point, Tartuffe begins to play the victim. Orgon falls for the act, and decides to make Tartuffe his only heir.
Mariane appeals to Orgon, asking him to spare her from marrying Tartuffe. He has second thoughts, but is not convinced by her pleas.
At this point, Elmire tells Orgon that she can prove that Tartuffe is a liar and a sham, totally unworthy of his daughter.
He reluctantly hides under a table while Elmire attempts to "seduce" Tartuffe.
He's horrified by what he sees.
He quickly confronts Tartuffe.
Tartuffe threatens Orgon, telling him that he's in charge now, and that he'll soon get revenge. After he leaves, Orgon runs upstairs to check on some documents he's kept locked away in a strongbox.
Soon after, Orgon tells Cléante that his worst fears have been confirmed: Tartuffe has taken the documents, documents that, if shown to the King, could prove his undoing. He had, it seems, put them into Tartuffe's care so that he wouldn't have to feel guilty about having them.
Damis returns; Orgon is glad to have his son back.
Madame Pernelle shows up. She can't believe the rumors she's been hearing. Orgon tries to explain to her that Tartuffe is a fraud.
She doesn't believe him. He gets angry. He also gets a taste of his own medicine.
Their argument is interrupted by the appearance of Monsieur Loyal, who has been sent by Tartuffe.
After consulting with Cléante, Orgon tries to keep his cool and hear Loyal out.
It turns out that Loyal has come to serve Orgon with an eviction notice, and not with some kind of mutually agreeable terms.
Orgon becomes angry. He does, however, manage to avoid hitting Loyal.
Valère shows up, and tells Orgon that he must leave immediately, as Tartuffe is on his way with a police officer.
Orgon agrees to flee with Valère.
His flight is interrupted by the appearance of Tartuffe. He has denounced Orgon to the King. All Orgon can do is insult Tartuffe.
Just when things are at their worst, and it looks as though Orgon is going to be arrested, the officer arrests Tartuffe instead. The officer explains that the King saw right through Tartuffe's scheme, and that he, in his wisdom has pardoned Orgon for his offenses, on account of his prior service to the Crown.
Orgon begins insulting Tartuffe again, but Cléante stops him.
Orgon tells everyone to get ready to go see the King.
After the King, has been properly thanked, says Orgon, Mariane and Valère will finally get married.