Tartuffe Essay

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Pages: 5

Cleante: A True Enlightenment Man Moliere’s Tartuffe is from 17th century France, during the Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason. The type of Enlightenment in the western culture differed from the Eastern Asian philosophies. Enlightenment thinkers put faith in reason and analysis in the Western culture. Tartuffe was born to a culture that valued the age of rationalism, or practical thinking, which had gradually departed from religious beginnings. Furthermore, people in Paris were interested in Enlightenment values such as rationality, moderation, and order. In addition, good manners and gender roles were strictly enforced during this time period. Moliere demonstrates all of these Enlightenment values in his play. The …show more content…
As the best judge of character in Tartuffe, Cleante is able to see through the evil Tartuffe. Yes even with his frustrated attempts to lead his brother-in-law to the truth, Cleante does not lose his temper. He keeps his emotions in check, remaining true to his Enlightenment ideals. Orgon tells Cleante that he is “The era’s oracle, its Cato too, And all mankind are fools compared to you” (Molière 212). Orgon’s mentioning of Cato shows that Moliere’s work is a true Enlightenment play, as many works of art and literature of the time referred to Greek and Roman classics. Unfortunately, Orgon does not listen to his own words in this scene and continues to feel love for Tartuffe. Undeniably, he is one of the fools he mentions. Cleante warns Orgon that he is being deceived by false pretenses, but his brother-in-law doesn’t listen. Cleante’s rationality is most noticeable towards the end of the play. When Orgon discovers Tartuffe’s sexual advances on his wife, he explodes with anger. Cleante, instead of joining Orgon in his hatred for Tartuffe, scolds his brother for being “extravagant as ever”. He tells Orgon that he is jumping “between absurd extremes” and asks him to “cultivate a sober moderation” (Molière 244). Cleante suggests to the others that they do not need to spend time on their emotional reactions to Tartuffe and instead calls for a rational, practical approach. The character that most demonstrates the