Neo-Classicism: Tartuffe 2
Satire, which reached a high point in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, aimed to expose the follies of everything from individuals and the aristocracy to institutions like the church. French playwright Molière (1622-1673) showed his mastery of the genre with Tartuffe,
a comedy that ridicules religious hypocrisy and pokes fun at the willingness of certain individuals to be manipulated by charm rather than substance. Tartuffe is a religious hypocrite who has ingratiated himself with Orgon, the head of an aristocratic house, in an attempt to win both Orgon’s daughter and, ultimately, his wealth. In this reader’s theater presentation of a scene from the play, Cleante, Orgon’s brother-in-law, confronts Tartuffe, who has managed to convince Orgon to disown his son Damis and hand over Damis’ property to him. Director Robert Pickering introduces the scene with contextual information.
- Show as an example of satire.
- Have students present reader’s theater performances of other scenes from the play.
- Have students plan the technical elements for a performance of this play. Encourage them to research the time period and strive for historical accuracy or set the play in another time period, indicating the era through costumes and set.
- Compare this scene to the scene from Heartbreak House by George Bernard Shaw.
- Have students look for examples of satire in today’s world (advertising, film, etc.).