Tartuffe

Tartuffe Character Analysis

A deceptive con man who has invented a connection to the Catholic Church, Tartuffe pretends to be a pious in order to drain the wealthy but foolish out of his money, property, and status. As the play begins, Tartuffe has already alienated Orgon from his own family, and is currently scheming both to marry his daughter Mariane while also seducing his wife Elmire. Although eventually foiled by the efforts of Orgon’s family members—particularly Elmire—to expose Tartuffe for the fraud he really is, the character exemplifies the dangerous and pervasive nature of hypocrisy.

Tartuffe Quotes in Tartuffe

The Tartuffe quotes below are all either spoken by Tartuffe or refer to Tartuffe. 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:

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But he’s quite lost his senses since he fell
Beneath Tartuffe’s infatuating spell
He calls him brother, and loves him as his life
Preferring him to mother, child, or wife.

Related Characters: Dorine (speaker), Tartuffe, Orgon
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

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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

There’s been no loftier soul since time began.
He is a man who…a man who…an excellent man.

Related Characters: Orgon (speaker), Tartuffe
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

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Under his tutelage my soul’s been freed
From earthly loves, and every human tie:
My mother, children, brother, and wife would die,
And I’d not feel a single moment’s pain.

Related Characters: Orgon (speaker), Tartuffe
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

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He used to come into our church each day
And humbly kneel nearby and start to pray.
He’d draw the eyes of everybody there
By the deep fervor of his heartfelt prayer;
He’d sign and weep and sometimes with a sound
Of rapture he would bend and kiss the ground.

Related Characters: Orgon (speaker), Tartuffe
Related Symbols: The Catholic Church
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

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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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How do you fail to see it, may I ask?
Is not a face quite different than a mask?
Cannot sincerity and cunning art,
Reality and semblance, be told apart?

Related Characters: Cléante (speaker), Tartuffe, Orgon
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

Orgon: Poor though he is, he’s a gentleman just the same.

Dorine: Yes, so he tells us; and, Sir, it seems to me
Such pride goes very ill with piety.
A man whose spirit spurns this dungy earth
Ought not to brag of lands and noble birth;
Such worldly arrogance will hardly square
With meek devotion and the life of prayer.

Related Characters: Orgon (speaker), Dorine (speaker), Tartuffe
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

Dorine: Faced with a fate so hideous and absurd,
Can you not utter one dissenting word?

Mariane: What good would it do? A father’s power is great.

Related Characters: Dorine (speaker), Mariane (speaker), Tartuffe, Orgon
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

Tartuffe: Hang up my hair-shirt, put my scourges in place,
And pray, Laurent, for Heaven’s perpetual grace.
I’m going to the prison now, to share
My last few coins with the poor wretches there.
Dorine: Dear God, what affectation! What a fake!

Related Characters: Tartuffe (speaker), Dorine (speaker)
Page Number: 82
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 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:

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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:

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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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Act 4, Scene 7 Quotes

Well, so you thought you’d fool me, my dear saint!
How soon you wearied of the saintly life—
Wedding my daughter, and coveting my wife!
I’ve long suspected you, and had a feeling
That soon I’d catch you at your double-dealing.
Hust now, you’ve given me evidence galore;
It’s quite enough; I have no wish for more.

Related Characters: Orgon (speaker), Tartuffe
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

Orgon: Enough, by God! I’m through with pious men:
Henceforth I’ll hate the whole false brotherhood,
And persecute them worse than Satan could.

Cléante: Ah, there you go—extravagant as ever!
Why can you not be rational? You never
Manage to take the middle course, it seems,
But jump, instead, between absurd extremes.

Related Characters: Orgon (speaker), Cléante (speaker), Tartuffe
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 6 Quotes

Sir, all is well; rest easy, and be grateful.
We serve a Prince to whom all sham is hateful,
A Prince who sees into our inmost hearts,
And can’t be fooled by any trickster’s arts.
His royal soul, though generous and human,
Views all things with discernment and acumen;
His sovereign reason is not lightly swayed,
And all his judgments are discreetly weighed.
He honors righteous men of every kind,
And yet his zeal for virtue is not blind,
Nor does his love of piety numb his wits
And make him tolerant of hypocrites.
‘Twas hardly likely that this man could cozen
A King who’s fouled such liars by the dozen,
With one keen glance,
The King perceived the whole
Perverseness and corruption of his soul,
And thus high Heaven’s justice was displayed:
Betraying you, the rogue stood self-betrayed.

Related Characters: Police Officer (speaker), Tartuffe, Orgon
Related Symbols: The King
Page Number: 161-62
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Tartuffe Character Timeline in Tartuffe

The timeline below shows where the character Tartuffe appears in Tartuffe. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
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The discussion turns to Tartuffe, a holy man whom Orgon and Madame Pernelle revere. The other characters believe him to... (full context)
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...people to be truly virtuous, while Cléante and Dorine assert that they are hypocrites like Tartuffe, using excessive shows of faith to mask their true sins, and perverting the power of... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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...in order to avoid Madame Pernelle. They discuss their frustrations with her, as well as Tartuffe’s increasing power over Orgon. Cléante in particular is surprised, because of Orgon’s honorable service to... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
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...Orgon. They discuss Mariane’s impending wedding to the man she loves, Valère, and worry that Tartuffe may manipulate Orgon into withdrawing his blessing. Damis, in particular, is worried, because he wants... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
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...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... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 5
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...he’s just witnessed, attempts to reason with Orgon, and to warn him of the dangers Tartuffe poses. Orgon, however, refuses to listen to reason, asserting that he loves Tartuffe more than... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...replies that doing as her father says delights her. When Orgon asks her opinion of Tartuffe, his daughter asserts that she will say whatever her father wishes her to say; but... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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...him, saying that she has heard evil gossip that Mariane is to be betrothed to Tartuffe. She states that her master would never do such a thing. (full context)
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...and again to speak to Mariane, Dorine interrupts him at every turn. When she criticizes Tartuffe’s hypocrisy and low social status, Orgon defends him, asserting that Tartuffe lost all his money... (full context)
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Dorine goes so far as to suggest that, should Mariane be forced to marry Tartuffe, she will not be faithful to him, asserting that Orgon will be culpable for all... (full context)
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As Orgon once again tries to persuade his daughter of the benefits of marriage to Tartuffe, Dorine interjects again and again, saying that she does so only because of her love... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
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...continues to question her, Mariane claims that she will kill herself if she must marry Tartuffe. The servant girl responds sarcastically, telling Mariane that she is self-pitying and timid. Mariane says... (full context)
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Mariane begs Dorine to help her avoid marriage to Tartuffe, but the servant refuses. When Mariane in turn claims that her despair will help end... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
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Valère enters, stunned and angry at the news that Mariane may be betrothed to Tartuffe. Ever submissive and docile, Mariane cannot tell her true beloved that she wishes to marry... (full context)
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...Dorine cuts them off completely, and reminds them that Orgon’s plan to marry Mariane to Tartuffe must be stopped. She advises Mariane to “postpone” the marriage by pretending to be sick... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Damis, who has just heard of Orgon’s plan to marry Mariane to Tartuffe, enters in a fury as Dorine tries to calm him down, urging him not to... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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Tartuffe enters, and upon seeing Dorine, calls offstage for his “hair-shirt” and “scourge”—tools that particularly religious... (full context)
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Tartuffe gives Dorine a handkerchief and urges her to cover her chest with it lest she... (full context)
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Insulted, Tartuffe tells Dorine that he will leave, but when Dorine tells him that Elmire is on... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
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As Elmire enters, Tartuffe attempts to overwhelm her with flattery, telling her that he has been praying ceaselessly for... (full context)
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Tartuffe takes this opportunity to tell Elmire that he wishes to bare his “inmost heart and... (full context)
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Despite being uncomfortable, Elmire stays focused on her goal: to keep Tartuffe from marrying Mariane. When she asks Tartuffe about the match, he replies that he looks... (full context)
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Elmire responds graciously to Tartuffe’s declaration of love, telling him that he should attempt to restrain his emotion. Tartuffe, however,... (full context)
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Still reasonable and polite, Elmire asks Tartuffe if he is worried that she will tell Orgon about his feelings for her. Tartuffe... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
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...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 a good wife ignores such foolishness... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
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Fortuitously enough, Orgon immediately enters. Damis seizes the opportunity to tell his father that Tartuffe has made an offer of adultery to Elmire, calling him a liar and a traitor.... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 6
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Shocked, Orgon asks Tartuffe if this is true; and Tartuffe replies that it is, extravagantly and “piously” criticizing himself... (full context)
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Tartuffe goes even further, apparently defending Damis from his father, and telling Orgon that one should... (full context)
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Even further angered by what he views as Tartuffe’s blamelessness, Orgon berates and threatens his son. Tartuffe continues to “defend” Damis (which of course... (full context)
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...but Orgon only becomes increasingly stubborn, calling his son a “monster” and a “villain” as Tartuffe begs him to stop (while secretly egging him on). Orgon becomes crazed, eventually trying to... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 7
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With Damis gone, Tartuffe calls Orgon “brother,” and tells him how deeply it hurts when someone tries to slander... (full context)
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Tartuffe says that he would rather leave the house than create further discord, but Orgon begs... (full context)
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Continuing his tactic of reverse psychology, Tartuffe tells Orgon that from now on he will stay far away from Elmire to avoid... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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Time jumps forward, and the next act opens with Cléante telling Tartuffe that the whole town is talking about Orgon’s fight with Damis. (full context)
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Cléante asserts that, no matter who is in the wrong, it would be Christian of Tartuffe to persuade Orgon to forgive his own son. Tartuffe, however, contends that if he does... (full context)
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Cléante turns the conversation towards Orgon’s decision to give Tartuffe his entire estate, telling the hypocrite that he should not have accepted the offer. Tartuffe... (full context)
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Not at all deceived by Tartuffe’s claim, Cléante reprimands him, saying that Damis should have been given the chance to use... (full context)
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Tartuffe makes an excuse, saying that he must go pray, and swiftly exits. A frustrated Cléante... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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As soon as Tartuffe exits, Elmire, Mariane, and Dorine enter, and Dorine begs Cléante’s assistance, telling him that Mariane’s... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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...Mariane falls to her knees and begs her father not to force her to marry Tartuffe. She says that if she cannot marry Valère, then she may need to consider more... (full context)
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...almost swayed, but when Mariane says that she would rather become a nun than marry Tartuffe, her father grows angry again, telling his daughter that the more she loathes Tartuffe, the... (full context)
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When Elmire reminds him of Tartuffe’s attempted seduction of her this morning, Orgon asserts that she is doing so merely to... (full context)
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When Orgon tells Elmire that nothing anyone says will shake his faith in Tartuffe, his wife asks him if she can instead show him the truth. He responds with... (full context)
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Elmire asks Dorine to bring in Tartuffe, while sending away Cléante and Mariane. Although Dorine warns her mistress that Tartuffe is devious,... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
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...she says. Once he is concealed, she tells him that she is going to encourage Tartuffe’s advances in order to expose his true treacherous nature. She begs Orgon, however, to intervene... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
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Tartuffe asks Elmire what she wants with him and, hearing that she has a secret, closes... (full context)
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With Tartuffe perplexed by her speech, Elmire continues, explaining that women’s modesty often prevents them from speaking... (full context)
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Although overjoyed, Tartuffe remains cautious, suspicious that Elmire is pretending to love him only to stop his match... (full context)
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Still attempting to delay, Elmire asks Tartuffe if he is afraid of Heaven’s wrath, and the sin of adultery, but he responds... (full context)
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Elmire tries to signal her husband by coughing repeatedly, until Tartuffe wants to know if she is ill. He goes on to ask if she is... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 7
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As Tartuffe comes back to announce that the house is empty, Orgon leaps out from behind Elmire... (full context)
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At this, Tartuffe shows his true colors, saying that since Orgon made him his heir and signed over... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 8
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Elmire asks what Tartuffe meant, and Orgon explains to her that he has indeed signed over all his lands... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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...his possession. So uneasy did they make him, in fact, that he gave them to Tartuffe for safekeeping. Cléante scolds Orgon for acting so foolishly. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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...says that she has heard “strange tales of very strange events.” Orgon tells her that Tartuffe has betrayed him, but Madame Pernelle (as her son did before her) utterly refuses to... (full context)
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...Orgon that they are wasting time, and that they must figure out how to stop Tartuffe. Elmire expresses regret at her “little plot,” saying that if she’d known about Tartuffe’s power... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
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...Loyal enters and asks to speak with Orgon. He says that he has come from Tartuffe, and that he bears a message. Although at first Loyal seems kind and courteous, he... (full context)
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...the family is furious, Monsieur Loyal will not budge, saying that the law is on Tartuffe’s side and that Orgon’s household must leave Tartuffe’s property. He goes on to say that... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 6
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Valère enters urgently, bringing terrible news: he has heard that Tartuffe has brought the contents of the strongbox to the King, and that police officers are... (full context)
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Before Orgon can run away, however, Tartuffe enters, followed by the Officer, and announces that Orgon must go to prison. Although the... (full context)
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Tartuffe orders the Officer to arrest Orgon—but instead of doing so, The Officer announces that he... (full context)
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The family is relieved; as the women praise God, Cléante stops Orgon from insulting Tartuffe, telling him that it is undignified to do so, and that he should instead hope... (full context)