Study Guide

Tartuffe Genre

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Society Comedy, Satire

Let's break it down now, word by word. Let's start with comedy: as that famous English playwright said, "all's well that ends well," and, well, Tartuffe definitely ends well. Catch our drift? Like most comedies every thing wraps up happily in Tartuffe. The villain gets taken to jail, the lovers get married, the foolish father gets a dose of reality, and everybody else gets to breathe a sigh of relief. You get the picture.

Now let's move on to the society part of the equation. Economic class definitely has something to do with it. Tartuffe concerns the trials of a rich family, that's being preyed upon by a poor, that is, not wealthy, swindler. And, of course, there's Dorine, a servant with a tendency to get herself involved in the lives of the people who, according to her society, are supposed be her "betters." Religion is also a big deal in the world of Tartuffe. Priests and other members of the Catholic Church were considered to be part of a totally different class.

In Tartuffe, we get to see the interaction of all these different elements: rich men and aristocrats, ladies and their hired help. It's that interaction that shakes things up and gets us laughing – especially when it turns out nobody's really playing the role you might expect them to be playing. Orgon, the rich father, is really a dope; the holy man is a fraud; and the servant girl might just be the wisest of them all.

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