Study Guide

Tartuffe Act 4, Scene 5

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Act 4, Scene 5

  • Tartuffe strolls into the room.
  • Elmire gets right to the point…but not before telling Tartuffe to close the door and "look about for spies" (4.5.2).
  • He apparently doesn't look very well, as he fails to find Orgon.
  • Elmire tells Tartuffe that she only acted the way she did earlier in the day because she was caught off guard.
  • Now that everything has blown over, she tells him, they can get busy without fear of interference.
  • Tartuffe is justifiably confused by this turn of events.
  • Elmire tells him to chill out. If he didn't see what was going on, it's only because he doesn't understand what women want.
  • Women, according to Elmire always act coy; even when they say no, or perhaps especially when they say no, they really mean yes. (Note to all the dudes reading this: THIS IS NOT TRUE. Even Molière knew this was garbage.)
  • Would I have listened to your whole confession of love, she asks, if I didn't, you know, want you? Would I have asked you to convince Orgon to let Mariane marry Valère if I didn't want to keep you all for myself?
  • Despite the persuasiveness of her arguments – at least compared to those of Tartuffe – the trickster is still wary of being tricked. He won't believe her, he says, until she demonstrates her love "somewhat more concretely."
  • At this point, Elmire is getting a little creeped out. She coughs to let Orgon know that she's a bit uncomfortable.
  • Elmire tries to buy herself a little time, but Tartuffe won't let up. She tries again – but no luck. He's a veritable animal.
  • When Elmire pulls the whole "Isn't this a sin?" card, Tartuffe promises that he can clear the whole thing up with the Man Upstairs.
  • When she acts surprises, Tartuffe promises to teach her all his tricks, let's call it Hypocrisy 101. He also tells her that, if anything goes down, the fault will be his.
  • This prompts Elmire to cough again. Tartuffe comments upon it and offers a piece of licorice to help her feel better. She declines.
  • Tartuffe tries to reassure Elmire again, telling her that, really, no one will know about what happens.
  • Elmire coughs again and then finally gives up. She tells Tartuffe that yes, clearly she has to "demonstrate" her love. Before anything happens, though, she asks Tartuffe to open the door and check for her husband.
  • Tartuffe tells her to chill out; he's got stupid Orgon wrapped around his finger, he says, and she needn't worry.
  • Still, she insists, and Tartuffe leaves the room.

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