Tartuffe

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Damis Character Analysis

Hot-headed and impetuous, Orgon’s son and Elmire’s stepson makes no secret of his abhorrence for Tartuffe. He feels strongly, too, about his sister Mariane’s engagement to Valère, because he himself wishes to marry Valère’s sister. Enraged when he observes Tartuffe attempting to seduce Elmire, Damis is disowned by his father, who puts Tartuffe in his son’s place as heir. It takes an order from the King at the end of the play in order to reinstate this son and heir to his rightful position.

Damis Quotes in Tartuffe

The Tartuffe quotes below are all either spoken by Damis or refer to Damis. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harvest Books edition of Tartuffe published in 1992.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

Damis: Your man Tartuffe is full of holy speeches…
Madame Pernelle: And practices precisely what he preaches.

Related Characters: Damis (speaker), Madame Pernelle (speaker), Tartuffe
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

The family of Orgon comes together to debate the merits and defects of Tartuffe. Madame Pernelle, Orgon's mother, and a prideful, short-sighted woman, believes Tartuffe to be a holy man, true to his word and totally pious. She refuses to hear a word against him, no matter how much her family tries to tell her that Tartuffe is a greedy, grasping fraud. 

Damis, on the other hand, Orgon's hot-headed son, hates Tartuffe and makes no secret about his loathing. He claims that Tartuffe is "full of holy speeches" but does not actually follow the pious commands that he speaks. Madame Pernelle, on the other hand, believes that Tartuffe always does "precisely" what he says, completely blind to the many ways in which Tartuffe actually breaks the laws that he himself articulates. 

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Act 3, Scene 4 Quotes

To make a scandal would be too absurd.
Good wives laugh off such trifles, and forget them;
Why should they tell their husbands, and upset them?

Related Characters: Elmire (speaker), Tartuffe, Damis
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

Tartuffe, having tried to seduce Elmire, is discovered by Damis, who resolves to tell Orgon what he has seen. Elmire, however, urges her stepson not to reveal Tartuffe's treachery to his father. She explains that although she is a good and honest wife, she has no wish to make a fuss or cause a scandal. Since her faithfulness is unshakeable, she sees no reason to "upset" her husband with news of Tartuffe's attempted seduction. 

Elmire's speech reveals her subtle and keen mind. Although a moral and faithful wife, Elmire knows the difference between true honesty, and prideful superiority. She chooses always to keep her married life smooth and simple, invested in faithfulness, but also committed to keeping her husband happy and secure. Her rationality contrasts with figures like Mariane and Damis, who are also honest and faithful characters, but who do not have her even temperament and logical disposition. 

Act 3, Scene 6 Quotes

Orgon: Can it be true, this dreadful thing I hear?

Tartuffe: Yes, Brother, I’m a wicked man, I fear;
A wretched sinner, all depraved and twisted,
The greatest villain that has ever existed.
My life’s one heap of crimes, which grows each minute;
There’s naught but foulness and corruption in it;
And I perceive that Heaven, outraged by me,
Has chosen this occasion to mortify me
Charge me with any deed you wish to name;
I’l not defend myself, but take the blame.
Believe what you are told, and drive Tartuffe
Like some base criminal from beneath your roof;
Yes, drive me hence, and with a parting curse:
I shan’t protest, for I deserve far worse.

Orgon (to Damis): Ah, you deceitful boy, how dare you try
To stain his purity with so foul a lie?

Related Characters: Tartuffe (speaker), Orgon (speaker), Damis
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

Damis has exposed Tartuffe to Orgon, revealing that the "holy" man has attempted to seduce Elmire. Orgon, aghast, turns immediately to Tartuffe, to question him about this charge against him. The sly Tartuffe, meanwhile, responds by playing into the pious persona that he has created. Rather then defend himself, he castigates himself as a terrible sinner, saying he will accept the blame for any and every sin with which he is charged. In other words, he makes himself look even more wholly in Orgon's eyes by agreeing so completely about his own sinfulness – because, as Orgon sees it, only a holy man would be so honest about his sins. 

Of course, Orgon responds just as Tartuffe hopes, with furious anger and a refusal to believe his truthful but rash son. This interaction displays the true, dangerous power of Tartuffe's hypocrisy. Even when he tells the absolute truth – he is a "base criminal," and deserves to be ejected from the house – Orgon still cannot see past his lies and manipulations. Nothing will loosen Tatuffe's sway over his patron, making it nearly impossible for any of Orgon's family members to get through to their foolish patriarch. 

Villain, be still!
I know your motives; I know you wish him ill:
Yes, all of you—wife, children, servants, all—
Conspire against him and desire his fall
Employing every shameful trick you can
To alienate me from this saintly man
Ah, but the more you seek to drive him away
The more I’ll do to keep him. Without delay,
I’ll spite this household and confound its pride
By giving him my daughter as his bride.

Related Characters: Orgon (speaker), Tartuffe, Damis
Page Number: 100-101
Explanation and Analysis:

Infuriated that Damis has tried to tell the truth about Tartuffe, Orgon begins to berate his son. He believes that everyone is against him, and that only he can see Tartuffe's pious and holy soul. Growing increasingly irrational, he accuses his entire household of being deceitful sinners, and resolves to "spite" his family, resolves to give Tattuffe his daughter, Mariane, as a bride.

Most obviously, this passage displays Orgon's immense foolishness and his vicious temper. Completely under the influence of Tartuffe, he has forsaken those who love him in favor of a lying, grasping hypocrite. Yet despite this massive lapse in judgement, Orgon still has power over his family's lives. As patriarch, he controls their money, their house, and his daughter's marriage prospects. Although Orgon seems to display no actual care for his daughter – and though she most definitely does not want to marry Tartuffe – Orgon is free to order her to marry whomever he wishes. 

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Damis Character Timeline in Tartuffe

The timeline below shows where the character Damis appears in Tartuffe. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
...Pernelle, is finishing a visit with the rest of his family: his son and daughter, Damis and Mariane; their stepmother and Orgon’s second wife, Elmire; and Elmire’s brother, Cléante. (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
...each member of the family for what she perceives as their sinful ways. She tells Damis and Mariane that they do not respect their father enough, and upbraids Elmire for entertaining... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
Elmire, Mariane, and Damis reenter, glad to be rid of Madame Pernelle, and anticipating the arrival of Orgon. They... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Heartened by Dorine’s words, Valère and Mariane pledge their undying love to each other. Dorine, exasperated by the... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Damis, who has just heard of Orgon’s plan to marry Mariane to Tartuffe, enters in a... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
Enraged beyond endurance, Damis springs out of the closet and declares that if Elmire will not tell Orgon of... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Fortuitously enough, Orgon immediately enters. Damis seizes the opportunity to tell his father that Tartuffe has made an offer of adultery... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 6
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
...throw him out of the house. Once more manipulated by Tartuffe’s hypocrisy, Orgon turns on Damis, furious at his son’s supposed slander of Tartuffe, accusing Damis of making the whole thing... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Tartuffe goes even further, apparently defending Damis from his father, and telling Orgon that one should not trust in appearances. He urges... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
...he views as Tartuffe’s blamelessness, Orgon berates and threatens his son. Tartuffe continues to “defend” Damis (which of course only makes Orgon more upset). As he becomes more and more enraged,... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
Appalled, Damis attempts to keep his father from carrying out this terrible course of action, but Orgon... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 7
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
With Damis gone, Tartuffe calls Orgon “brother,” and tells him how deeply it hurts when someone tries... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
...opens with Cléante telling Tartuffe that the whole town is talking about Orgon’s fight with Damis. (full context)
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
Not at all deceived by Tartuffe’s claim, Cléante reprimands him, saying that Damis should have been given the chance to use his wealth morally as opposed to having... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
...earlier seduction because his words actually pleased her, that she wished to defend him from Damis, and that she tried to thwart his marriage to Mariane only because she wanted him... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
...Orgon’s furniture, but that he will give the family until the morning to leave. Orgon, Damis, and even Dorine are furious, threatening Loyal with bodily harm. Cléante attempts to maintain order... (full context)