Study Guide

Tartuffe Act 4, Scene 1

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Act 4, Scene 1

  • We find Cléante and Tartuffe having a conversation concerning the recent ruckus between Damis and Orgon.
  • Cléante tells Tartuffe that the town's abuzz with rumors about the conflict, then lays down a hypothetical: Assuming that Damis's to blame, shouldn't Tartuffe, being a good Christian and all, forgive him and let him reclaim his inheritance?
  • Tartuffe tells Cléante that he would love to patch things up with Damis, but at this point it really isn't possible; it's just not in the divine cards. If he were to start acting nice now, he says, things would just look suspicious, like he were just trying to stop Damis from defaming him.
  • Cléante doesn't buy Tartuffe's reasoning and he tells him so. You should do the right thing, he says, no matter what other people will think.
  • Tartuffe tells him that he has already forgiven Damis, but even so he doesn't have to live with the jerk who defamed him.
  • But, Cléante asks, surely you didn't have to accept Damis's inheritance.
  • Tartuffe insists he doesn't really care for earthly things; he just wants to, you know, make sure bad guys don't get their hands on it. Just like he watches over Elmire to make sure bad guys don't get their hands on her.
  • Cléante counters; as far as he can see, Damis should at least be given the chance to use the wealth. He sums up his old arguments again but – surprise, surprise – Tartuffe doesn't listen.
  • Tartuffe takes his leave.
  • All Cléante can say is "damn" (4.1.9). Damn, indeed.

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