The Theme of Love in Tartuffe

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TheTheme of Love in Tartuffe

Thoughlove is regarded as a universal human emotion, it has a differentmeaning to various people. It is widely recognized as a variety ofstates, feelings, and attitudes that span from pleasure tointerpersonal affection. In some instances, it is regarded as anintense personal attraction and strong attraction, while in othersit is a virtue that stands for a range of human virtues, such ascompassion, human kindness, and affection. Throughout history, lovehas professed different meaning from one generation to another andone society to the next. For instance, in ancient Greek, there werefour forms of love, including sexual/romantic, divine, kinship, andfriendship. Further, some contemporary writers made furtherdistinctions on the forms of love, such as different states ofromantic love. Other non-western traditions have also distinguishedthe various symbols of these states (of love). Other credibletheories, such as Judaism and Islamic interpretations, reveal thatlove has spiritual or religious meaning. All in all, the concept oflove is associated with a wide diversity of meanings and uses thatmake the emotion unusually difficult to define and consistentlyinterpret.

DifferentDepictions of Love

Love is a broad concept that does not readily present a meaning atits mention. The 18-th century poets traveled great distances todescribe their beloveds, whereas notable authors have had to countermajor obstacles in the wake of conveying their “wretchedordinariness” (Molière29).Consequently, the language of love has featured differently in manyeras through using some of the great generalizing symbols, such asthe rose, the heart, the fixed stars, and others (Molière191).

Inthe text, Tartuffe, various forms of love can be identified from therelationship and associations of the different characters. Love ispresented as a human emotion and can only be expressed in the courseof interacting with fellow human beings. Also, since it is expressedthrough values and principles when human beings indulge incollaborative activities and/or find themselves in conflict with eachother, then they can apply values, such as forgiveness,understanding, compassion, selflessness, sharing, respect for oneanother, and others. The novel begins on a high pitchinstance where astorm is brewing in Orgon’s family. According to the opinion of hismother, Madame Pernelle, their family has become depraved anddecadent as a consequence of division over the real identity ofTartuffe, a local beggar whom Orgon took in. While his family membersthink of him as a hypocrite, a con artist, and self-righteousindividual, Orgon thinks otherwise. In fact, he is overly obsessedwith him such that he does not want to hear anything from his wife.He even develops a sour relationship with his brother-in-law,Cleante, who thinks that he is insane because he is listening to anoutsider more than those close to him. Cleanteis surprised with the sudden change of attitude, especially becauseof the fact that he has postponed his (Orgon’s) daughter wedding.In addition to confirming the change of events, he does not offer anyexplanation but opts to say nothing further. It is an act offriendship love that Orgon has developed towards Tartuffe, such thathe is blinded to see his bad, undesirable part. Tartuffe’s lifetales, especially those related with divinity, have inspired him tothe point that he develops a naïve belief in his advances.

Tartuffeis a French word that means hypocrite or the impostor, it was firstperformed in 1664, and features as one of the most celebratedliterary works by Moliere (Molière2).What is more, the main characters, Elmire and Orgon are considered assome of the most influential theatric personalities in history.

Inthe play, marriage is used to demonstrate and develop the theme oflove further but is made more complicated. It is because theinstitution is not just used to express and exchange love, but isalso used for political reasons, to gain mileage. Though love isperfected between couples in the text, its endeavors are hampered inall its packages. The audience is treated to the notion that marriagecan only be decided by the bride’s father, and that any mistakethat he makes could cost him great losses. The characters make usbelieve that the strength of the bonds of marriage reflect the matchthat has been mad, insinuating that the institution (of marriage) iscritical to the wellbeing of the society. The author has used theintense drama between Mariane, Orgon, Tartuffe, and Valere todemonstrate how the institution of marriage is used to expressromantic and friendship love between couples and other individualsrespectively.

Themost dominant form of love in the play is marriage and romantic love.The author introduces a kind of conflict that revolves around theinstitution of marriage. Though is overshadowed by political desiresand manipulations, the union between a couple represents one of themost genuine manifestations of love. Moliere uses the marriagearrangement to her audience so that she can use it to explore amyriad of values, principles, vices, virtues, and sundry, which areeither actof love or the opposite. For instance, she defines adultery as awayward act that contradicts the principles of marriagebut also ponders over some values of love, such as forgiveness ofwrongs done, understanding, and others.

Thethird form of love expressed in the play is divine love. According tothe words of Orgon: “He lost his fortune, as he says himself,because he cared for Heaven alone, and so, was careless of hisinterests here below. I mean to get him out of his present straitsand help him to recover his estates (17).As such, he does not stop to ponder about the suspicious aspects ofTartuffe’s story. He is totally confused such that he does notlisten to the members of his family when they try to show him that itis strange for a man of God to develop a sudden interest in earthlythings. It is like he does not use his thinking sensory at times.

Roleof Love

Therelationship between love and literature is not minor, as discussionsabout love are not new (are timeless) and have survived humanitysince time immemorial. Currently, there are many interpretations oflove that cause confusion, especially with regards to the depth oflove. The discussion of the central role that love plays is coveredin many literary works, and in the novel, Tartuffe, it is equallysignificant. For instance, it deals with sufficient bargain of love,both human and divine forms (216).The author has used love to demonstrate the concepts of lust and asan obstacle to progress and other processes. One of the maincharacters, Tartuffe, is an impostor, who has found his way intoOrgon’s family oriented household (230).His hypocritical nature makes it possible for him to convince arather naïve and shallow Orgon with his fake qualities of humilityand holiness. It makes him develop an unorthodox religious obsessionwith Tartuffe and even goes to the extent of compelling her daughter,Mariane, to marry him. The situation complicates things for Mariane,who already has a ready suitor that she has been dating.Consequently, Orgon acts like a bully and in Act 4, he prepares themarital contract and even declares Tartuffe his apparent heir. Theaudience is well aware of the affectionate attachment that Orgon hastowards his family, but somehow his obsession (love) with Tartuffesignifies his downfall.


Inthe play, Tartuffe, various institutions arise out of love, mostimportantly that of marriage. In Act 4, the audience is treated to awedding ceremony that is to formalize the forced union betweenTartuffe and Marriane.Tartuffe has managed to use deceit to get into Orgon’s family tothe extent that he is named the heir to his wealth and the husband tobe to his daughter. The role of marriage institution is also revealedin the conflict that is facing Orgon’s family. Imperatively, thenovel was considered blasphemous during its first performance, beforeit was banned in 1664. All in all, the themes are still relevant inthis contemporary world just like in the 16th and 17th centuries. Theauthor has demonstrated how fathers/husbands are the heads offamilies, and how they could be abusive towards his fellow members.Orgon is used to represent the tyrannical father figures and cunningpoliticians and how they are finally foreshadowed in the end. Incontrast, the underlying seriousness is never sufficient to dampenOrgon’s irrepressible gaiety, as talented wives and servants helpto maintain the balance of a world that is faced with the threat ofcunning wives and maniacal fathers.

Love,Bondage, Freedom

Thenovel has clearly revealed the themes of Love and Bondage and Loveand Freedom. The subject of love and bondage is demonstrated in therelationship between Orgon and his daughter, Marriane. During theinitial stages of the play, the audience is treated to the deepaffection that Orgon has towards his family. in Scene 1, Orgon teststhe loyalty of his daughter by asking if she will obey everythingthat he commands. Since Marriane is a pliable daughter, she is readyto demonstrate her love for his father by doing anything he asks ofher. Consequently, she is captivated in a form of mental bondagebecause of her unshakable loyalty to her father.

Thebroader theme of love and bondage, thus, concerns the predicamentthat Orgon has forced his daughter, and the rest of his family. Hemeets a stranger who professes to be poor and is not interested inmaterial things. His love and affection for humanity make him adoptthe man and provides a family and necessary provisions alongside hisfamily. It shows a form of emotional and mental bondage that blindssome people from the truth.


Theanalysis has demonstrated how the concept of love is associated witha wide diversity of meanings and uses that make the emotion unusuallydifficult to define and consistently interpret. In the novel,Tartuffe, Orgon is obsessed with Tartuffe, such that he turns againsthis family in his favor. He even names him heir to his wealth andpromises to give him his daughter for marriage. The reason for hissudden liking for Tartuffe is that the latter is in love with divinethings and does not care about material objects.

WorksCitedTopof Form

Molière,Stanley. Tartuffeand the Bourgeois Gentleman: Le Tartuffe Et Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.Mineola, N.Y: Dover Publications, 1998. Internet resource.

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