Tartuffe Literary Analysis

In Act 1, Scene 1 of Tartuffe, the Tower of Babel is mentioned. In this scene Madame Pernelle criticises it for being decadent and for being without morals of any kind. The passage that follows is an allusion, which references a passage in the bible, in Genesis, chapter 11.

The chapter tells of a time when a number of people were slowly making their way to Babylonia, it was at a time when everyone was said to have spoken the same language. At some point in the story they all got together and decided that they were going to build a large city which contained a huge tower that reached all the way to heaven. As everyone spoke the same language it was easy to get them all on the same side and to get on with their project. At this point in the chapter, God looked down on what was happening and thought that he could make things interesting by making them all speak another language. As no one could understand each other anymore they couldn’t work together to construct the city and they abandoned the project.

Just as in the Babel story from the bible, in Tartuffe language is confused and Tartuffe himself is often the one that is responsible. In Act 4, Scene 5 he even bends things found in the bible, such as the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule which dictates that you should “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Throughout the play Tartuffe’s ability with language is highlighted. More examples include when he tricks Orgon by praying too loudly in church. At the point when Damis accuses Tartuffe of attempting to seduce Elmire, he tricks Orgon by using reverse psychology. Almost whenever Tartuffe speaks it is actually meaningless and dishonest and is only meant to manipulate others. Madame Pernelle may not exactly know what she is talking about in Act 1, Scene 1, but her mention of Babel is a defining metaphor in the play. Tartuffe is all about trying to decipher the truth amongst the meaningless babble.

The Catholic church is a metaphor that is prevalent throughout the story of Tartuffe, it plays a very important role for the characters. The Catholic church represents the very traditional aspects of religion, including faith, charity and piety. But it should be

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