Tartuffe Short Summary
“Tartuffe” by Molière is a play about the story of a man who falls victim to misdirected adoration. There is a trouble-knocking at the house of Orgon. Madame Pernelle, his mother, believes that the family is becoming depraved and decadent. Orgon had recently taken in Tartuffe, who is a beggar but also a holy man. The family sees Tartuffe as hypocritical and as a con artist. When Orgon gets back from the country, he is obsessed with the man (Tartuffe) and would rather hear more about him than paying attention to his ailing wife. Cleante, the brother in law, tries to talk to him about Tartuffe but his efforts are fruitless since Orgon keeps praising Tartuffe. Below is a complete overview of the story.
The Plot in Detail
Orgon’s son Damis wants to marry Valere’s sister, and Mariane wants to marry Valere. However, Damis is not sure of his father’s feelings about these, and hence, he asks Cleante to inquire about the weddings from Orgon.
When asked about it, Orgon evades the issue. When Mariane arrives, Orgon tells her of his intention to ally his house with Tartuffe by offering her in marriage. The news is shocking to Mariane.
Orgon leaves, and Mariane is reprimanded by Dorine, their maid for not rejecting the idea of marrying Tartuffe. Valere arrives and further accuses Mariane of giving consent to this marriage. They argue for some time while Dorine listens, and she later promises to help them by exposing Tartuffe as a hypocrite.
Damis is also very determined to have Tartuffe exposed. He hears him approaching and hides in a closet. Elmire, the wife of Orgon, arrives and while they think they are alone, Tartuffe professes his love to her. Damis hears this and makes his presence known, threatening to expose him. When Orgon arrives, Damis tries to explain the events, but Orgon does not believe him. He even disowns Damis and intends to make Tartuffe his son in law and also the sole heir to him.
Cleante confronts Tartuffe later in an attempt to reason with him. Tartuffe stalls using religious clichés and then leave when a chance presented itself. Orgon and his wife arrive. She hears of her husband’s plans and convinces him to hide and observe the actions of Tartuffe. Elmire then gets Tartuffe, and he starts making his declarations of affection for her while also making rude remarks about Orgon.
Convinced of the hypocrisy, Orgon appears and throws him out. However, Orgon had signed over his property to him, which made him the owner of Orgon’s house. Orgon had also trusted Tartuffe which some sensitive info that could be lethal to his position.
Orgon’s mother gets there and cannot believe when Orgon tells her of Tartuffe’s hypocrisy. She believes it when she learns of the family’s eviction by Tartuffe. Before Tartuffe evicts them, the king orders his imprisonment for his crimes, and Orgon gets his property restored.