Molière modified and expanded the play from three to five acts and Louis

Molière modified and expanded the play from three to

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hypocrite as a cleric. Molière modified and expanded the play from three to five acts, and Louis authorized its performance (entitled L’Imposteur) at the Palais-Royal in 1667. Although Molière had made the hypocrite a layperson and softened his satire, the police and the Archbishop of Paris took advantage of the king’s trip to Flanders to shut down the successful play. After more efforts by Molière and Louis, the comedy was again authorized in 1669 and performed triumphantly as Tartuffe: Ou, L’Imposteur. As the play begins, Mme Pernelle, pleased that her son, Orgon, has welcomed such a pious man into his household, roundly criticizes each member of the family who accuses Tartuffe of hypocrisy, including the outspoken servant Dorine. Returning from the country, Orgon inquires most solicitously about Tartuffe’s health (not his wife’s) and gives his brother-in-law, Cléante, an evasive answer regarding the proposed marriage of his daughter to Valère. Complications develop in act 2: Despite Mariane’s dislike for Tartuffe, Orgon wants his daughter to marry him rather than the man whom she loves and who loves her. Dorine’s remonstrances are of no avail with Orgon, and she comforts the timid Mariane and settles the lovers’ quarrel that Orgon’s wishes have incited. In act 3, Orgon’s son Damis tries to intervene also, but Dorine makes him promise to leave matters to his stepmother, Elmire. The latter sends for Tartuffe, who finally appears. The young woman begs him to
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give up Mariane. The hypocrite takes advantage of the situation to try to seduce Elmire, who agrees not to reveal his scandalous behavior if he will favor the marriage of Mariane and Valère, but Damis, who overhears everything from a nearby closet, informs his father. Tartuffe feigns humility and deceives Orgon, who turns against his son and makes Tartuffe his heir. Tartuffe is evasive when, in act 4, Cléante begs him to reconcile Orgon and Damis. Orgon wishes to hasten his daughter’s wedding to Tartuffe despite the protests of Cléante and Mariane. In order to disabuse her husband, Elmire has him hide under a table, summons Tartuffe, and pretends to respond to his passion. Finally understanding that he has been tricked by an impostor, Orgon comes out of his hiding place and orders Tartuffe to leave the house. The hypocrite abandons his mask and threatens Orgon, for the house belongs to him now. The concluding act brings about the anticipated reversal. Orgon regrets having turned all his worldly possessions over to Tartuffe, including a strongbox containing the papers entrusted to him by a friend who is in political trouble. Mme Pernelle continues to have faith in Tartuffe when M. Loyal arrives with a court order to evict Orgon. Valère offers to help Orgon escape, for the incriminating strongbox has been turned over to the king’s officers. Tartuffe appears in person with an officer to have Orgon arrested, but it is Tartuffe who
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is arrested instead; the king had been alerted to the impostor’s fraudulent activities and knew of Orgon’s services to the royal cause during the rebellion of the Fronde. The
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  • Spring '16
  • Harry Purcell

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