Tartuffe

Elmire Character Analysis

Although she is beautiful, rich, and popular, Elmire, the wife of Orgon and stepmother of Damis and Mariane, and sometimes criticized for it, she is also intelligent, loyal, and virtuous. As the play progresses, Elmire is increasingly menaced by the advances of Tartuffe, who lusts after her youth and beauty. She, however, uses his actions against him, enduring his attempts at seduction in order to show her husband the falseness of his supposed friend.

Elmire Quotes in Tartuffe

The Tartuffe quotes below are all either spoken by Elmire or refer to Elmire. 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 4 Quotes

Orgon: Has all been well, these two days I’ve been gone?
How are the family? What’s been going on?

Dorine: Your wife, two days ago, had a bad fever
And a fierce headache which refused to leave her

Orgon: Ah. And Tartuffe?

Dorine: Tartuffe: Why, he’s round and red,
Bursting with health, and excellently fed.

Orgon: Poor fellow!

Related Characters: Orgon (speaker), Dorine (speaker), Tartuffe, Elmire
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 1, Scene 5 Quotes

He guides our lives, and to protect my honor
Stays by my wife, and keeps an eye upon her;
He tells me whom he sees, and all she does,
And seems more jealous than I ever was!

Related Characters: Orgon (speaker), Tartuffe, Elmire
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 3 Quotes

Your loveliness I had no sooner seen
Than you became my soul’s unrivalled queen;
Before your seraph glance, divinely sweet,
My heart’s defenses crumbled in defeat,
And nothing fasting, prayer, or tears might do
Could stay my spirit from adoring you
My eyes, my sights have told you in the past
What now my lips make bold to say at last,
And if, in your great goodness, you will deign
To look upon your slave and ease his pain,—
If, in compassion for my soul’s distress,
You’ll stoop to comfort my unworthiness,
I’ll raise to you, in thanks for that sweet manna,
An endless hymn, an infinite hosanna.

Related Characters: Tartuffe (speaker), Elmire
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

I am amazed, and don’t know what to say;
Your blindness simply takes my breath away.
You are indeed bewitched, to take no warning
From our account of what occurred this morning.

Related Characters: Elmire (speaker), Tartuffe, Orgon
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Scene 4 Quotes

I’m going to act quite strangely, now, and you
Must not be shocked at anything I do.
Whatever I may say, you must excuse
As part of that deceit I’m forced to use.

Related Characters: Elmire (speaker), Tartuffe, Orgon
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Scene 5 Quotes

If you’re still troubled, think of things this way:
No one shall know our joys, save us alone,
And there’s no evil till the act is known;
It’s scandal, Madam, which makes it an offense,
And it’s no sin to sin in confidence.

Related Characters: Tartuffe (speaker), Elmire
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:

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Why worry about the man? Each day he grows
More gullible; one can lead him by the nose.
To find us here would fill him with delight,
And if he saw the worst, he’d doubt his sight.

Related Characters: Tartuffe (speaker), Orgon, Elmire
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

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Elmire Character Timeline in Tartuffe

The timeline below shows where the character Elmire 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
...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
...She tells Damis and Mariane that they do not respect their father enough, and upbraids Elmire for entertaining too many callers and caring too much about her appearance. She even tells... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
...various pious people they know, particularly citing a supposedly pious neighbor who often gossips about Elmire; Madame Pernelle believes such ostentatiously moral people to be truly virtuous, while Cléante and Dorine... (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... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Sarcastically, Dorine takes her leave, telling Orgon that she will let Elmire know how worried her husband was about her. (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
...calm him down, urging him not to give in to emotion. Dorine reminds him that Elmire has a great deal of influence over Tartuffe, and even speculates that Tartuffe may be... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Insulted, Tartuffe tells Dorine that he will leave, but when Dorine tells him that Elmire is on her way to talk with him, Tartuffe immediately replies that he will stay.... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
As Elmire enters, Tartuffe attempts to overwhelm her with flattery, telling her that he has been praying... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Tartuffe takes this opportunity to tell Elmire that he wishes to bare his “inmost heart and soul” to her. He goes on... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Despite being uncomfortable, Elmire stays focused on her goal: to keep Tartuffe from marrying Mariane. When she asks Tartuffe... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Elmire responds graciously to Tartuffe’s declaration of love, telling him that he should attempt to restrain... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
Still reasonable and polite, Elmire asks Tartuffe if he is worried that she will tell Orgon about his feelings for... (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 Tartuffe’s treachery, then he will. Elmire explains to him that... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
...the opportunity to tell his father that Tartuffe has made an offer of adultery to Elmire, calling him a liar and a traitor. Elmire, however, holds that Damis should not have... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 7
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
...Orgon that his family will continue to plot against him, making sure to mention that Elmire in particular may say slanderous things about him. (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
...reverse psychology, Tartuffe tells Orgon that from now on he will stay far away from Elmire to avoid any impropriety. Orgon replies that he wishes to spite his family by making... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
As soon as Tartuffe exits, Elmire, Mariane, and Dorine enter, and Dorine begs Cléante’s assistance, telling him that Mariane’s heart will... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
When Elmire reminds him of Tartuffe’s attempted seduction of her this morning, Orgon asserts that she is... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
When Orgon tells Elmire that nothing anyone says will shake his faith in Tartuffe, his wife asks him if... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Elmire asks Dorine to bring in Tartuffe, while sending away Cléante and Mariane. Although Dorine warns... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Alone with her husband, Elmire tells Orgon to hide himself under a table. He remains completely unconvinced, but does as... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Tartuffe asks Elmire what she wants with him and, hearing that she has a secret, closes the door... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
With Tartuffe perplexed by her speech, Elmire continues, explaining that women’s modesty often prevents them from speaking their hearts, and that she... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Although overjoyed, Tartuffe remains cautious, suspicious that Elmire is pretending to love him only to stop his match with Mariane. He tells her... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Still attempting to delay, Elmire asks Tartuffe if he is afraid of Heaven’s wrath, and the sin of adultery, but... (full context)
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Elmire tries to signal her husband by coughing repeatedly, until Tartuffe wants to know if she... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 6
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Appalled, Orgon comes out of hiding, but Elmire (despite signaling him moments before) tells him to go back under the table, telling him... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 7
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
...Tartuffe comes back to announce that the house is empty, Orgon leaps out from behind Elmire and begins to berate Tartuffe for attempting to marry his daughter while coveting his wife.... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 8
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
Elmire asks what Tartuffe meant, and Orgon explains to her that he has indeed signed over... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
The women enter: Madame Pernelle, Mariane, Elmire, and Dorine. Orgon’s mother says that she has heard “strange tales of very strange events.”... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
...as Orgon was before, is “thunderstruck.” Dorine reacts sarcastically. Orgon scolds her, but Cléante and Elmire intervene and urge the patriarch to decide on a course of action. (full context)