English 233:  Introduction to Western Humanities -- Baroque & Enlightenment

An outline of Molière's Tartuffe -- Act Two

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Act Two

i. Orgon reveals to Mariane his resolve that she marry Tartuffe.

She begins by "fishing" — but with a view not of discovering her true feelings but of to manipulating her, to trapping her into describing her feelings to be what he wants them to be (despite what his proceeding reveals is his assumption that they are.

She ends by tyrannically insisting on his privilege as father.

ii. Dorine enters to defend the interests of her mistress.

She begins by treating the story first as a rumor,

then as a joke

finally as unwise.

She presents the case against the match prepared by Orgon.

1) Mariane is unsuitable for Tartuffe (if he's as he says he is).

2) Tartuffe is socially unsuitable as son-in-law for a man of Orgon's station in life.

3) Tartuffe is unsuitable for him: he will drive her to infidelity (disgrace and spiritual peril).

4) The marriage requires breaking the promise to Valère.

Orgon deploys his pretexts for dismissing the latter consideration.

1) He cites a rumor that Valère gambles.

2) He declares he hasn't seen Valère at church: that his orthodoxy is questionable.

Three concluding "riffs":

=> Dorine repeatedly interrupts Orgon as he turns to Mariane.

[Do these interruptions have the same meanings as those we see in the opening scene of the play and in Scenes iv and v of Act III? ]

=> Dorine repeatedly talks "to herself."

=> Dorine repeatedly uses her silence against the repressor.

iii. Dorine rallies Mariane to resist.

First she reasons straightforwardly.

Then she ironically enumerates the "advantages" of the match and insists that Mariane deserves.

iv. Valère, having arrived to check out the rumor that Orgon plans to marry off Mariane, he and she get into a spat aggravated by the offended oversensitivity and obstinacy of each.

Asked what position she will take, Mariane says she doesn't know.

Asked for his counsel, Valère advises her to marry Tartuffe.

Valère accuses her of having been insincere with him, and vows to seek kinder treatment from another woman.

Valère vows to leave. A yo-yo scene ensues: 4 repetitions.

Dorine intervenes:

She runs back and forth several times to restrain each from leaving, draws them together, chiding each, prevents them from getting derailed anew, formulates a plan for each and forces them to go their separate ways.

Copyright (c) 1996 by Lyman Allen Baker.

Permission granted for non-commercial educational use; all other rights reserved.

Revised 23 November 1996.