Tartuffe is the religious hypocrite and it is probably Molière’s most sinister character. While the name is apparently from the Italian tartufulo, meaning “truffle,” there is a subtle hint of deception in the French verb truffer, which could mean “tromper,” or “to deceive”.

The character is a pseudo-religious imposter who tricks Orgon so thoroughly that Orgon is about to give him his own daughter in marriage. When that fails, the impostor tries to take everything Orgon owns.

Because Tartuffe wanted to be bound to Orgon by the strongest ties of gratitude, allows the son to be turned out of the house by his father, because the latter will not believe the accusations brought against the hypocrite - tries to seduce his benefactor’s wife, to marry his daughter by a first marriage; and finally, after having obtained all his dupe’s property, betrays him to the king as a criminal against the state. The denouement of the play is that Tartuffe himself is led to prison, and that vice is for the nonce punished on the stage as it deserves to be.

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