WORLD LITERATURE II (ENG
Activities for Tartuffe
Dr. Diane Thompson, NVCC, ELI
Select the Activity question you wish to respond to. Make a copy of
the question to begin your Activity. Post your response to the
Activity 1: Tartuffe Forum. I will comment on your Activity on the Forum, and send your grade to you
privately, by email.
|In Tartuffe, Cleante says of Orgone: "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." With this
comment in mind, describe/discuss the character of Orgon. Use examples from the text to
support your discussion.
|Moliere learned about comedy from his career as
an actor and from studying the Italian commedia dell'arte, a form of comic
theatre that used farce, masks, clownish behavior and improvisation. What, specifically,
makes Tartuffe a comedy? Select a brief scene from Tartuffe that you think is especially
funny. Note specifics such as dialogue, absurd behavior, impudence, repetition, etc.
|Imagine that Orgon is the father of one of your
friends. Notice how Orgon uses his passion for Tartuffe to torment and control his own
family. Find some examples of how he does this. Do yo think Orgon was a good father and
husband before he became involved with Tartuffe? Or do you think Orgon uses his passion
for Tartuffe as a pretext for being cruel to his family? Write a letter to your friend
advising him/her how to deal with this infatuated parent.
|Rational man and practical women--Cleante,
Elmire and Dorine. Look at all the sensible things these people say and do. They represent
the classical good sense of civilized people in seventeenth century France. Now give a few
examples of their good sense. Do they have any effect on Orgon and his mother? If not, why
not? Give one or two examples from your own experience when good advice and common sense
|Look at how Tartuffe behaves as a religious
hypocrite. Note that this play was banned by the Church in its day and offended many
religious people deeply. Do you think Moliere meant Tartuffe to be a satire on religion or
a satire on a hypocrite? Give examples from the play to support your position.
|Read the contemporary Accounts of Louis XIV, and then
look at the ending of Tartuffe, where Orgon and his family are saved by the King. This
kind of ending is called a deus ex machina (god from the machine) ending, because
it is an intervention from outside of the action of the play itself. In ancient Greek
theatre, it was usually done by a god coming down onto the stage in a mechanical
contraption, or machine. First describe the events of Tartuffe's deus ex machina
ending, and then discuss it. Do you think this is a suitable ending for the play? Does it
fit? Does it seem reasonable? Can you relate it to the character and role of Louis XIV?
Why or why not? Can you imagine a better way of ending the play? How? Be specific.
|Examine the paintings in Seventeenth Century Baroque Fashion:
1665-1699, and select several as possible illustrations of characters in
Now, describe each of those characters in detail, combining your understanding of their
behavior with the costumes they are wearing. Be very specific with examples from the play
as well as from the costumes.
|Do a Google search to find a
good Commedia dell'Arte site
that focuses on the main characters of this theatre form. After reading about
these characters, consider how they do or do not fit the characters in
Explain what you have discovered, giving plenty of specific examples from the www site
(include the web address so I can find it) and
from the play.
Thompson: 8/1/1998; updated: