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Tartuffe: Act 1, Scene 4 Summary & Analysis

Orgon enters, and Cléante attempts to greet him. Orgon, however, interrupts his brother-in-law in order to ask Dorine how the household has fared in his absence. Although the servant girl attempts to tell him of Elmire’s recent illness, Orgon cares only for Tartuffe, repetitively (and comically) asking “And Tartuffe?” as Dorine attempts to speak. Though Dorine tells him again and again of Tartuffe’s gluttony and sloth, Orgon believes his friend to be a “poor fellow,” and pities him.
Orgon’s first scene is deeply comic and farcical, and it is worth it to remember that Tartuffe fits into the genre of farce, which entertains through exaggerated situations and behaviors. The scene also illustrates the depth of Orgon’s misguided foolishness. He ignores his brother-in-law, seems to care little for his wife’s illness, all while completely failing to understand the depth of Tartuffe’s deception. In short, Tartuffe has alienated Orgon from his own family, and essentially has complete power over his patron.
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Sarcastically, Dorine takes her leave, telling Orgon that she will let Elmire know how worried her husband was about her.
Again Dorine demonstrates her intelligence and fearlessness, despite her low status.
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