Title: Critical Essay on Tartuffe
Author(s): David Partikian
Source: Drama for Students. Ed. David A. Galens. Vol. 18. Detroit: Gale, 2003. From Literature Resource Center.
Document Type: Critical essay
Bookmark: Bookmark this Document
[pic]Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale, COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning
Censorship and Molière's Tartuffe have run hand in hand since the very first production of the play, which scandalized ecclesiastical authorities to the point of banning the play for many years. Many studies on the work examine the trials and tribulations that Molière underwent in order to stage the work; Molière had to rework the play no less than three times over the course of five years in order to have the production finally staged. However, in spite of Molière's extensive changes, there is still an allegorical criticism of authority, especially a patriarchal monarchy which runs throughout the play.
If a viewer or reader understands the Orgon family as an allegorical representation of the French monarchy, with Orgon in the role of king, the play can still be viewed as quite seditious.
Considering the era in which the play was staged, Molière could not have helped but step on a few toes in writing Tartuffe; the comedy, which originally poked fun at religion, when combined with the low regard for theater in general, was bound to cause offense no matter what the author's true intent. Richard Parish sums up the predicament in which Molière found himself:
Relations in France between the Catholic Church and the theatre were, throughout the seventeenth century and beyond, conflictual, irrespective of any perceived offense. Those sections of the church which promoted an austere morality were predictably uncompromising. . . . Within the climate of disapproval, the threat of Tartuffe is easy to account for: if all theatre is sinful, comedy as a frivolous