Part 1 out of 2
Etext prepared by Dagny, email@example.com
and John Bickers, firstname.lastname@example.org
TARTUFFE OR THE HYPOCRITE
by JEAN BAPTISTE POQUELIN MOLIERE
Curtis Hidden Page
Jean Baptiste Poquelin, better known by his stage name of Moliere,
stands without a rival at the head of French comedy. Born at Paris in
January, 1622, where his father held a position in the royal
household, he was educated at the Jesuit College de Clermont, and for
some time studied law, which he soon abandoned for the stage. His life
was spent in Paris and in the provinces, acting, directing
performances, managing theaters, and writing plays. He had his share
of applause from the king and from the public; but the satire in his
comedies made him many enemies, and he was the object of the most
venomous attacks and the most impossible slanders. Nor did he find
much solace at home; for he married unfortunately, and the unhappiness
that followed increased the bitterness that public hostility had
brought into his life. On February 17, 1673, while acting in "La
Malade Imaginaire," the last of his masterpieces, he was seized with
illness and died a few hours later.
The first of the greater works of Moliere was "Les Precieuses
Ridicules," produced in 1659. In this brilliant piece Moliere lifted
French comedy to a new level and gave it a new purpose--the satirizing
of contemporary manners and affectations by frank portrayal and
criticism. In the great plays that followed, "The School for Husbands"
and "The School for Wives," "The Misanthrope" and "The Hypocrite"
(Tartuffe), "The Miser" and "The Hypochondriac," "The Learned Ladies,"
"The Doctor in Spite of Himself," "The Citizen Turned Gentleman," and
many others, he exposed mercilessly one after another the vices and
foibles of the day.
His characteristic qualities are nowhere better exhibited than in
"Tartuffe." Compared with such characterization as Shakespeare's,
Moliere's method of portraying life may seem to be lacking in
complexity; but it is precisely the simplicity with which creations
like Tartuffe embody the weakness or vice they represent that has
given them their place as universally recognized types of human
MADAME PERNELLE, mother of Orgon
ORGON, husband of Elmire
ELMIRE, wife of Orgon
DAMIS, son of Orgon
MARIANE, daughter of Orgon, in love with Valere
CLEANTE, brother-in-law of Orgon
TARTUFFE, a hypocrite
DORINE, Mariane's maid
M. LOYAL, a bailiff
A Police Officer
FLIPOTTE, Madame Pernelle's servant
The Scene is at Paris
MADAME PERNELLE and FLIPOTTE, her servant; ELMIRE, MARIANE, CLEANTE,
Come, come, Flipotte, and let me get away.
You hurry so, I hardly can attend you.
Then don't, my daughter-in law. Stay where you are.
I can dispense with your polite attentions.
We're only paying what is due you, mother.
Why must you go away in such a hurry?
Because I can't endure your carryings-on,
And no one takes the slightest pains to please me.
I leave your house, I tell you, quite disgusted;
You do the opposite of my instructions;
You've no respect for anything; each one
Must have his say; it's perfect pandemonium.
If . . .
You're a servant wench, my girl, and much
Too full of gab, and too impertinent
And free with your advice on all occasions.
But . . .
You're a fool, my boy--f, o, o, l
Just spells your name. Let grandma tell you that
I've said a hundred times to my poor son,
Your father, that you'd never come to good
Or give him anything but plague and torment.
I think . . .
O dearie me, his little sister!
You're all demureness, butter wouldn't melt
In your mouth, one would think to look at you.
Still waters, though, they say . . . you know the proverb;
And I don't like your doings on the sly.
But, mother . . .
Daughter, by your leave, your conduct
In everything is altogether wrong;
You ought to set a good example for 'em;
Their dear departed mother did much better.
You are extravagant; and it offends me,
To see you always decked out like a princess.
A woman who would please her husband's eyes
Alone, wants no such wealth of fineries.
But, madam, after all . . .
Sir, as for you,
The lady's brother, I esteem you highly,
Love and respect you. But, sir, all the same,
If I were in my son's, her husband's, place,
I'd urgently entreat you not to come
Within our doors. You preach a way of living
That decent people cannot tolerate.
I'm rather frank with you; but that's my way--
I don't mince matters, when I mean a thing.
Mr. Tartuffe, your friend, is mighty lucky . . .
He is a holy man, and must be heeded;
I can't endure, with any show of patience,
To hear a scatterbrains like you attack him.
What! Shall I let a bigot criticaster
Come and usurp a tyrant's power here?
And shall we never dare amuse ourselves
Till this fine gentleman deigns to consent?
If we must hark to him, and heed his maxims,
There's not a thing we do but what's a crime;
He censures everything, this zealous carper.
And all he censures is well censured, too.
He wants to guide you on the way to heaven;
My son should train you all to love him well.
No, madam, look you, nothing--not my father
Nor anything--can make me tolerate him.
I should belie my feelings not to say so.
His actions rouse my wrath at every turn;
And I foresee that there must come of it
An open rupture with this sneaking scoundrel.
Besides, 'tis downright scandalous to see
This unknown upstart master of the house--
This vagabond, who hadn't, when he came,
Shoes to his feet, or clothing worth six farthings,
And who so far forgets his place, as now
To censure everything, and rule the roost!
Eh! Mercy sakes alive! Things would go better
If all were governed by his pious orders.
He passes for a saint in your opinion.
In fact, he's nothing but a hypocrite.
Just listen to her tongue!
I wouldn't trust him,
Nor yet his Lawrence, without bonds and surety.
I don't know what the servant's character
May be; but I can guarantee the master
A holy man. You hate him and reject him
Because he tells home truths to all of you.
'Tis sin alone that moves his heart to anger,
And heaven's interest is his only motive.
Of course. But why, especially of late,
Can he let nobody come near the house?
Is heaven offended at a civil call
That he should make so great a fuss about it?
I'll tell you, if you like, just what I think;
(Pointing to Elmire)
Upon my word, he's jealous of our mistress.
You hold your tongue, and think what you are saying.
He's not alone in censuring these visits;
The turmoil that attends your sort of people,
Their carriages forever at the door,
And all their noisy footmen, flocked together,
Annoy the neighbourhood, and raise a scandal.
I'd gladly think there's nothing really wrong;
But it makes talk; and that's not as it should be.
Eh! madam, can you hope to keep folk's tongues
From wagging? It would be a grievous thing
If, for the fear of idle talk about us,
We had to sacrifice our friends. No, no;
Even if we could bring ourselves to do it,
Think you that everyone would then be silenced?
Against backbiting there is no defence
So let us try to live in innocence,
To silly tattle pay no heed at all,
And leave the gossips free to vent their gall.
Our neighbour Daphne, and her little husband,
Must be the ones who slander us, I'm thinking.
Those whose own conduct's most ridiculous,
Are always quickest to speak ill of others;
They never fail to seize at once upon
The slightest hint of any love affair,
And spread the news of it with glee, and give it
The character they'd have the world believe in.
By others' actions, painted in their colours,
They hope to justify their own; they think,
In the false hope of some resemblance, either
To make their own intrigues seem innocent,
Or else to make their neighbours share the blame
Which they are loaded with by everybody.
These arguments are nothing to the purpose.
Orante, we all know, lives a perfect life;
Her thoughts are all of heaven; and I have heard
That she condemns the company you keep.
O admirable pattern! Virtuous dame!
She lives the model of austerity;
But age has brought this piety upon her,
And she's a prude, now she can't help herself.
As long as she could capture men's attentions
She made the most of her advantages;
But, now she sees her beauty vanishing,
She wants to leave the world, that's leaving her,
And in the specious veil of haughty virtue
She'd hide the weakness of her worn-out charms.
That is the way with all your old coquettes;
They find it hard to see their lovers leave 'em;
And thus abandoned, their forlorn estate
Can find no occupation but a prude's.
These pious dames, in their austerity,
Must carp at everything, and pardon nothing.
They loudly blame their neighbours' way of living,
Not for religion's sake, but out of envy,
Because they can't endure to see another
Enjoy the pleasures age has weaned them from.
MADAME PERNELLE (to Elmire)
There! That's the kind of rigmarole to please you,
Daughter-in-law. One never has a chance
To get a word in edgewise, at your house,
Because this lady holds the floor all day;
But none the less, I mean to have my say, too.
I tell you that my son did nothing wiser
In all his life, than take this godly man
Into his household; heaven sent him here,
In your great need, to make you all repent;
For your salvation, you must hearken to him;
He censures nothing but deserves his censure.
These visits, these assemblies, and these balls,
Are all inventions of the evil spirit.
You never hear a word of godliness
At them--but idle cackle, nonsense, flimflam.
Our neighbour often comes in for a share,
The talk flies fast, and scandal fills the air;
It makes a sober person's head go round,
At these assemblies, just to hear the sound
Of so much gab, with not a word to say;
And as a learned man remarked one day
Most aptly, 'tis the Tower of Babylon,
Where all, beyond all limit, babble on.
And just to tell you how this point came in . . .
So! Now the gentlemen must snicker, must he?
Go find fools like yourself to make you laugh
And don't . . .
Daughter, good-bye; not one word more.
As for this house, I leave the half unsaid;
But I shan't soon set foot in it again,
Come, you! What makes you dream and stand agape,
Hussy! I'll warm your ears in proper shape!
March, trollop, march!
I won't escort her down,
For fear she might fall foul of me again;
The good old lady . . .
Bless us! What a pity
She shouldn't hear the way you speak of her!
She'd surely tell you you're too "good" by half,
And that she's not so "old" as all that, neither!
How she got angry with us all for nothing!
And how she seems possessed with her Tartuffe!
Her case is nothing, though, beside her son's!
To see him, you would say he's ten times worse!
His conduct in our late unpleasantness 
Had won him much esteem, and proved his courage
In service of his king; but now he's like
A man besotted, since he's been so taken
With this Tartuffe. He calls him brother, loves him
A hundred times as much as mother, son,
Daughter, and wife. He tells him all his secrets
And lets him guide his acts, and rule his conscience.
He fondles and embraces him; a sweetheart
Could not, I think, be loved more tenderly;
At table he must have the seat of honour,
While with delight our master sees him eat
As much as six men could; we must give up
The choicest tidbits to him; if he belches,
('tis a servant speaking) 
Master exclaims: "God bless you!"--Oh, he dotes
Upon him! he's his universe, his hero;
He's lost in constant admiration, quotes him
On all occasions, takes his trifling acts
For wonders, and his words for oracles.
The fellow knows his dupe, and makes the most on't,
He fools him with a hundred masks of virtue,
Gets money from him all the time by canting,
And takes upon himself to carp at us.
Even his silly coxcomb of a lackey
Makes it his business to instruct us too;
He comes with rolling eyes to preach at us,
And throws away our ribbons, rouge, and patches.
The wretch, the other day, tore up a kerchief
That he had found, pressed in the /Golden Legend/,
Calling it a horrid crime for us to mingle
The devil's finery with holy things.
[Footnote 1: Referring to the rebellion called La Fronde, during the
minority of Louis XIV.]
[Footnote 2: Moliere's note, inserted in the text of all the old
editions. It is a curious illustration of the desire for uniformity
and dignity of style in dramatic verse of the seventeenth century,
that Moliere feels called on to apologize for a touch of realism like
this. Indeed, these lines were even omitted when the play was given.]
ELMIRE, MARIANE, DAMIS, CLEANTE, DORINE
ELMIRE (to Cleante)
You're very lucky to have missed the speech
She gave us at the door. I see my husband
Is home again. He hasn't seen me yet,
So I'll go up and wait till he comes in.
And I, to save time, will await him here;
I'll merely say good-morning, and be gone.
CLEANTE, DAMIS, DORINE
I wish you'd say a word to him about
My sister's marriage; I suspect Tartuffe
Opposes it, and puts my father up
To all these wretched shifts. You know, besides,
How nearly I'm concerned in it myself;
If love unites my sister and Valere,
I love his sister too; and if this marriage
Were to . . .
ORGON, CLEANTE, DORINE
Ah! Good morning, brother.
I was just going, but am glad to greet you.
Things are not far advanced yet, in the country?
Dorine . . .
Just wait a bit, please, brother-in-law.
Let me allay my first anxiety
By asking news about the family.
Has everything gone well these last two days?
What's happening? And how is everybody?
Madam had fever, and a splitting headache
Day before yesterday, all day and evening.
And how about Tartuffe?
Tartuffe? He's well;
He's mighty well; stout, fat, fair, rosy-lipped.
At evening she had nausea
And could't touch a single thing for supper,
Her headache still was so severe.
He supped alone, before her,
And unctuously ate up two partridges,
As well as half a leg o' mutton, deviled.
All night she couldn't get a wink
Of sleep, the fever racked her so; and we
Had to sit up with her till daylight.
Gently inclined to slumber,
He left the table, went into his room,
Got himself straight into a good warm bed,
And slept quite undisturbed until next morning.
At last she let us all persuade her,
And got up courage to be bled; and then
She was relieved at once.
And how about
He plucked up courage properly,
Bravely entrenched his soul against all evils,
And to replace the blood that she had lost,
He drank at breakfast four huge draughts of wine.
So now they both are doing well;
And I'll go straightway and inform my mistress
How pleased you are at her recovery.
Brother, she ridicules you to your face;
And I, though I don't want to make you angry,
Must tell you candidly that she's quite right.
Was such infatuation ever heard of?
And can a man to-day have charms to make you
Forget all else, relieve his poverty,
Give him a home, and then . . . ?
Stop there, good brother,
You do not know the man you're speaking of.
Since you will have it so, I do not know him;
But after all, to tell what sort of man
He is . . .
Dear brother, you'd be charmed to know him;
Your raptures over him would have no end.
He is a man . . . who . . . ah! . . . in fact . . .a man
Whoever does his will, knows perfect peace,
And counts the whole world else, as so much dung.
His converse has transformed me quite; he weans
My heart from every friendship, teaches me
To have no love for anything on earth;
And I could see my brother, children, mother,
And wife, all die, and never care--a snap.
Your feelings are humane, I must say, brother!
Ah! If you'd seen him, as I saw him first,
You would have loved him just as much as I.
He came to church each day, with contrite mien,
Kneeled, on both knees, right opposite my place,
And drew the eyes of all the congregation,
To watch the fervour of his prayers to heaven;
With deep-drawn sighs and great ejaculations,
He humbly kissed the earth at every moment;
And when I left the church, he ran before me
To give me holy water at the door.
I learned his poverty, and who he was,
By questioning his servant, who is like him,
And gave him gifts; but in his modesty
He always wanted to return a part.
"It is too much," he'd say, "too much by half;
I am not worthy of your pity." Then,
When I refused to take it back, he'd go,
Before my eyes, and give it to the poor.
At length heaven bade me take him to my home,
And since that day, all seems to prosper here.
He censures everything, and for my sake
He even takes great interest in my wife;
He lets me know who ogles her, and seems
Six times as jealous as I am myself.
You'd not believe how far his zeal can go:
He calls himself a sinner just for trifles;
The merest nothing is enough to shock him;
So much so, that the other day I heard him
Accuse himself for having, while at prayer,
In too much anger caught and killed a flea.
Zounds, brother, you are mad, I think! Or else
You're making sport of me, with such a speech.
What are you driving at with all this nonsense . . . ?
Brother, your language smacks of atheism;
And I suspect your soul's a little tainted
Therewith. I've preached to you a score of times
That you'll draw down some judgment on your head.
That is the usual strain of all your kind;
They must have every one as blind as they.
They call you atheist if you have good eyes;
And if you don't adore their vain grimaces,
You've neither faith nor care for sacred things.
No, no; such talk can't frighten me; I know
What I am saying; heaven sees my heart.
We're not the dupes of all your canting mummers;
There are false heroes--and false devotees;
And as true heroes never are the ones
Who make much noise about their deeds of honour,
Just so true devotees, whom we should follow,
Are not the ones who make so much vain show.
What! Will you find no difference between
Hypocrisy and genuine devoutness?
And will you treat them both alike, and pay
The self-same honour both to masks and faces
Set artifice beside sincerity,
Confuse the semblance with reality,
Esteem a phantom like a living person,
And counterfeit as good as honest coin?
Men, for the most part, are strange creatures, truly!
You never find them keep the golden mean;
The limits of good sense, too narrow for them,
Must always be passed by, in each direction;
They often spoil the noblest things, because
They go too far, and push them to extremes.
I merely say this by the way, good brother.
You are the sole expounder of the doctrine;
Wisdom shall die with you, no doubt, good brother,
You are the only wise, the sole enlightened,
The oracle, the Cato, of our age.
All men, compared to you, are downright fools.
I'm not the sole expounder of the doctrine,
And wisdom shall not die with me, good brother.
But this I know, though it be all my knowledge,
That there's a difference 'twixt false and true.
And as I find no kind of hero more
To be admired than men of true religion,
Nothing more noble or more beautiful
Than is the holy zeal of true devoutness;
Just so I think there's naught more odious
Than whited sepulchres of outward unction,
Those barefaced charlatans, those hireling zealots,
Whose sacrilegious, treacherous pretence
Deceives at will, and with impunity
Makes mockery of all that men hold sacred;
Men who, enslaved to selfish interests,
Make trade and merchandise of godliness,
And try to purchase influence and office
With false eye-rollings and affected raptures;
Those men, I say, who with uncommon zeal
Seek their own fortunes on the road to heaven;
Who, skilled in prayer, have always much to ask,
And live at court to preach retirement;
Who reconcile religion with their vices,
Are quick to anger, vengeful, faithless, tricky,
And, to destroy a man, will have the boldness
To call their private grudge the cause of heaven;
All the more dangerous, since in their anger
They use against us weapons men revere,
And since they make the world applaud their passion,
And seek to stab us with a sacred sword.
There are too many of this canting kind.
Still, the sincere are easy to distinguish;
And many splendid patterns may be found,
In our own time, before our very eyes
Look at Ariston, Periandre, Oronte,
Alcidamas, Clitandre, and Polydore;
No one denies their claim to true religion;
Yet they're no braggadocios of virtue,
They do not make insufferable display,
And their religion's human, tractable;
They are not always judging all our actions,
They'd think such judgment savoured of presumption;
And, leaving pride of words to other men,
'Tis by their deeds alone they censure ours.
Evil appearances find little credit
With them; they even incline to think the best
Of others. No caballers, no intriguers,
They mind the business of their own right living.
They don't attack a sinner tooth and nail,
For sin's the only object of their hatred;
Nor are they over-zealous to attempt
Far more in heaven's behalf than heaven would have 'em.
That is my kind of man, that is true living,
That is the pattern we should set ourselves.
Your fellow was not fashioned on this model;
You're quite sincere in boasting of his zeal;
But you're deceived, I think, by false pretences.
My dear good brother-in-law, have you quite done?
I'm your humble servant.
(Starts to go.)
Just a word.
We'll drop that other subject. But you know
Valere has had the promise of your daughter.
You had named the happy day.
Then why put off the celebration of it?
I can't say.
Can you have some other plan
You mean to break your word?
I don't say that.
I hope no obstacle
Can keep you from performing what you've promised.
Well, that depends.
Why must you beat about?
Valere has sent me here to settle matters.
Heaven be praised!
What answer shall I take him?
Why, anything you please.
But we must know
Your plans. What are they?
I shall do the will
Come, be serious. You've given
Your promise to Valere. Now will you keep it?
His love, methinks, has much to fear;
I must go let him know what's happening here.
Come; I'll tell you
Yes . . . What are you looking for?
ORGON (looking into a small closet-room)
To see there's no one there to spy upon us;
That little closet's mighty fit to hide in.
There! We're all right now. Mariane, in you
I've always found a daughter dutiful
And gentle. So I've always love you dearly.
I'm grateful for your fatherly affection.
Well spoken, daughter. Now, prove you deserve it
By doing as I wish in all respects.
To do so is the height of my ambition.
Excellent well. What say you of--Tartuffe?
Yes, you. Look to it how you answer.
Why! I'll say of him--anything you please.
ORGON, MARIANE, DORINE (coming in quietly and standing behind
Orgon, so that he does not see her)
Well spoken. A good girl. Say then, my daughter,
That all his person shines with noble merit,
That he has won your heart, and you would like
To have him, by my choice, become your husband.
What say you?
Please, what did you say?
Surely I mistook you, sir?
Who is it, father, you would have me say
Has won my heart, and I would like to have
Become my husband, by your choice?
But, father, I protest it isn't true!
Why should you make me tell this dreadful lie?
Because I mean to have it be the truth.
Let this suffice for you: I've settled it.
What, father, you would . . . ?
Yes, child, I'm resolved
To graft Tartuffe into my family.
So he must be your husband. That I've settled.
And since your duty . .
What are you doing there?
Your curiosity is keen, my girl,
To make you come eavesdropping on us so.
Upon my word, I don't know how the rumour
Got started--if 'twas guess-work or mere chance
But I had heard already of this match,
And treated it as utter stuff and nonsense.
What! Is the thing incredible?
So much so
I don't believe it even from yourself, sir.
I know a way to make you credit it.
No, no, you're telling us a fairly tale!
I'm telling you just what will happen shortly.
Daughter, what I say is in good earnest.
There, there, don't take your father seriously;
But I tell you . . .
No. No use.
They won't believe you.
If I let my anger . . .
Well, then, we do believe you; and the worse
For you it is. What! Can a grown-up man
With that expanse of beard across his face
Be mad enough to want . . .?
You hark me:
You've taken on yourself here in this house
A sort of free familiarity
That I don't like, I tell you frankly, girl.
There, there, let's not get angry, sir, I beg you.
But are you making game of everybody?
Your daughter's not cut out for bigot's meat;
And he has more important things to think of.
Besides, what can you gain by such a match?
How can a man of wealth, like you, go choose
A wretched vagabond for son-in-law?
You hold your tongue. And know, the less he has,
The better cause have we to honour him.
His poverty is honest poverty;
It should exalt him more than worldly grandeur,
For he has let himself be robbed of all,
Through careless disregard of temporal things
And fixed attachment to the things eternal.
My help may set him on his feet again,
Win back his property--a fair estate
He has at home, so I'm informed--and prove him
For what he is, a true-born gentleman.
Yes, so he says himself. Such vanity
But ill accords with pious living, sir.
The man who cares for holiness alone
Should not so loudly boast his name and birth;
The humble ways of genuine devoutness
Brook not so much display of earthly pride.
Why should he be so vain? . . . But I offend you:
Let's leave his rank, then,--take the man himself:
Can you without compunction give a man
Like him possession of a girl like her?
Think what a scandal's sure to come of it!
Virtue is at the mercy of the fates,
When a girl's married to a man she hates;
The best intent to live an honest woman
Depends upon the husband's being human,
And men whose brows are pointed at afar
May thank themselves their wives are what they are.
For to be true is more than woman can,
With husbands built upon a certain plan;
And he who weds his child against her will
Owes heaven account for it, if she do ill.
Think then what perils wait on your design.
ORGON (to Mariane)
So! I must learn what's what from her, you see!
You might do worse than follow my advice.
Daughter, we can't waste time upon this nonsense;
I know what's good for you, and I'm your father.
True, I had promised you to young Valere;
But, first, they tell me he's inclined to gamble,
And then, I fear his faith is not quite sound.
I haven't noticed that he's regular
You'd have him run there just when you do.
Like those who go on purpose to be seen?
I don't ask your opinion on the matter.
In short, the other is in Heaven's best graces,
And that is riches quite beyond compare.
This match will bring you every joy you long for;
'Twill be all steeped in sweetness and delight.
You'll live together, in your faithful loves,
Like two sweet children, like two turtle-doves;
You'll never fail to quarrel, scold, or tease,
And you may do with him whate'er you please.
With him? Do naught but give him horns, I'll warrant.
Out on thee, wench!
I tell you he's cut out for't;
However great your daughter's virtue, sir,
His destiny is sure to prove the stronger.
Have done with interrupting. Hold your tongue.
Don't poke your nose in other people's business.
DORINE (She keeps interrupting him, just as he turns and starts
to speak to his daughter).
If I make bold, sir, 'tis for your own good.
You're too officious; pray you, hold your tongue.
'Tis love of you . . .
I want none of your love.
Then I will love you in your own despite.
You will, eh?
Yes, your honour's dear to me;
I can't endure to see you made the butt
Of all men's ridicule.
Won't you be still?
'Twould be a sin to let you make this match.
Won't you be still, I say, you impudent viper!
What! you are pious, and you lose your temper?
I'm all wrought up, with your confounded nonsense;
Now, once for all, I tell you hold your tongue.
Then mum's the word; I'll take it out in thinking.
Think all you please; but not a syllable
To me about it, or . . . you understand!
(Turning to his daughter.)
As a wise father, I've considered all
With due deliberation.
I'll go mad
If I can't speak.
(She stops the instant he turns his head.)
Though he's no lady's man,
Tartuffe is well enough . . .
A pretty phiz!
So that, although you may not care at all
For his best qualities . . .
A handsome dowry!
(Orgon turns and stands in front of her, with arms folded, eyeing
Were I in her place, any man should rue it
Who married me by force, that's mighty certain;
I'd let him know, and that within a week,
A woman's vengeance isn't far to seek.
ORGON (to Dorine)
So--nothing that I say has any weight?
Eh? What's wrong now? I didn't speak to you.
What were you doing?
Talking to myself.
Oh! Very well. (Aside.) Her monstrous impudence
Must be chastised with one good slap in the face.
(He stands ready to strike her, and, each time he speaks to his
daughter, he glances toward her; but she stands still and says not a
[Footnote 3: As given at the Comedie francaise, the action is as
follows: While Orgon says, "You must approve of my design," Dorine is
making signs to Mariane to resist his orders; Orgon turns around
suddenly; but Dorine quickly changes her gesture and with the hand
which she had lifted calmly arranges her hair and her cap. Orgon goes
on, "Think of the husband . . ." and stops before the middle of his
sentence to turn and catch the beginning of Dorine's gesture; but he
is too quick this time, and Dorine stands looking at his furious
countenance with a sweet and gentle expression. He turns and goes on,
and the obstinate Dorine again lifts her hand behind his shoulder to
urge Mariane to resistance: this time he catches her; but just as he
swings his shoulder to give her the promised blow, she stops him by
changing the intent of her gesture, and carefully picking from the top
of his sleeve a bit of fluff which she holds carefully between her
fingers, then blows into the air, and watches intently as it floats
away. Orgon is paralysed by her innocence of expression, and compelled
to hide his rage.--Regnier, /Le Tartuffe des Comediens/.]
Daughter, you must approve of my design. . . .
Think of this husband . . . I have chosen for you. . .
Why don't you talk to yourself?
Nothing to say.
One little word more.
Oh, no, thanks. Not now.
Sure, I'd have caught you.
Faith, I'm no such fool.
So, daughter, now obedience is the word;
You must accept my choice with reverence.
DORINE (running away)
You'd never catch me marrying such a creature.
ORGON (swinging his hand at her and missing her)
Daughter, you've such a pestilent hussy there
I can't live with her longer, without sin.
I can't discuss things in the state I'm in.
My mind's so flustered by her insolent talk,
To calm myself, I must go take a walk.
Say, have you lost the tongue from out your head?
And must I speak your role from A to Zed?
You let them broach a project that's absurd,
And don't oppose it with a single word!
What can I do? My father is the master.
Do? Everything, to ward off such disaster.
Tell him one doesn't love by proxy;
Tell him you'll marry for yourself, not him;
Since you're the one for whom the thing is done,
You are the one, not he, the man must please;
If his Tartuffe has charmed him so, why let him
Just marry him himself--no one will hinder.
A father's rights are such, it seems to me,
That I could never dare to say a word.
Came, talk it out. Valere has asked your hand:
Now do you love him, pray, or do you not?
Dorine! How can you wrong my love so much,
And ask me such a question? Have I not
A hundred times laid bare my heart to you?
Do you know how ardently I love him?
How do I know if heart and words agree,
And if in honest truth you really love him?
Dorine, you wrong me greatly if you doubt it;
I've shown my inmost feelings, all too plainly.
So then, you love him?
And he returns your love, apparently?
I think so.
And you both alike are eager
To be well married to each other?
Then what's your plan about this other match?
To kill myself, if it is forced upon me.
Good! That's a remedy I hadn't thought of.
Just die, and everything will be all right.
This medicine is marvellous, indeed!
It drives me mad to hear folk talk such nonsense.
Oh dear, Dorine you get in such a temper!
You have no sympathy for people's troubles.
I have no sympathy when folk talk nonsense,
And flatten out as you do, at a pinch.
But what can you expect?--if one is timid?--
But what is love worth, if it has no courage?
Am I not constant in my love for him?
Is't not his place to win me from my father?
But if your father is a crazy fool,
And quite bewitched with his Tartuffe? And breaks
His bounden word? Is that your lover's fault?
But shall I publicly refuse and scorn
This match, and make it plain that I'm in love?
Shall I cast off for him, whate'er he be,
Womanly modesty and filial duty?
You ask me to display my love in public . . . ?
No, no, I ask you nothing. You shall be
Mister Tartuffe's; why, now I think of it,
I should be wrong to turn you from this marriage.
What cause can I have to oppose your wishes?
So fine a match! An excellent good match!
Mister Tartuffe! Oh ho! No mean proposal!
Mister Tartuffe, sure, take it all in all,
Is not a man to sneeze at--oh, by no means!
'Tis no small luck to be his happy spouse.
The whole world joins to sing his praise already;
He's noble--in his parish; handsome too;
Red ears and high complexion--oh, my lud!
You'll be too happy, sure, with him for husband.
Oh dear! . . .
What joy and pride will fill your heart
To be the bride of such a handsome fellow!
Oh, stop, I beg you; try to find some way
To help break off the match. I quite give in,
I'm ready to do anything you say.
No, no, a daughter must obey her father,
Though he should want to make her wed a monkey.
Besides, your fate is fine. What could be better!
You'll take the stage-coach to his little village,
And find it full of uncles and of cousins,
Whose conversation will delight you. Then
You'll be presented in their best society.
You'll even go to call, by way of welcome,
On Mrs. Bailiff, Mrs. Tax-Collector,
Who'll patronise you with a folding-stool.
There, once a year, at carnival, you'll have
Perhaps--a ball; with orchestra--two bag-pipes;
And sometimes a trained ape, and Punch and Judy;
Though if your husband . . .
Oh, you'll kill me. Please
Contrive to help me out with your advice.
I thank you kindly.
Oh! Dorine, I beg you . . .
To serve you right, this marriage must go through.
If I say I love Valere . . .
No, no. Tartuffe's your man, and you shall taste him.
You know I've always trusted you; now help me . . .
No, you shall be, my faith! Tartuffified.
Well, then, since you've no pity for my fate
Let me take counsel only of despair;
It will advise and help and give me courage;
There's one sure cure, I know, for all my troubles.
(She starts to go.)
There, there! Come back. I can't be angry long.
I must take pity on you, after all.
Oh, don't you see, Dorine, if I must bear
This martyrdom, I certainly shall die.
Now don't you fret. We'll surely find some way.
To hinder this . . . But here's Valere, your lover.
VALERE, MARIANE, DORINE
Madam, a piece of news--quite new to me--
Has just come out, and very fine it is.
What piece of news?
Your marriage with Tartuffe.
'Tis true my father has this plan in mind.
Your father, madam . . .
Yes, he's changed his plans,
And did but now propose it to me.
Yes, he was serious,
And openly insisted on the match.
And what's your resolution in the matter,
I don't know.
That's a pretty answer.
You don't know?
What do you advise?
I? My advice is, marry him, by all means.
That's your advice?
Do you mean it?
A splendid choice, and worthy of your acceptance.
Oh, very well, sir! I shall take your counsel.
You'll find no trouble taking it, I warrant.
No more than you did giving it, be sure.
I gave it, truly, to oblige you, madam.
And I shall take it to oblige you, sir.
Dorine (withdrawing to the back of the stage)
Let's see what this affair will come to.
That is your love? And it was all deceit
When you . . .
I beg you, say no more of that.
You told me, squarely, sir, I should accept
The husband that is offered me; and I
Will tell you squarely that I mean to do so,
Since you have given me this good advice.
Don't shield yourself with talk of my advice.
You had your mind made up, that's evident;
And now you're snatching at a trifling pretext
To justify the breaking of your word.
Of course it is; your heart
Has never known true love for me.
You're free to think so, if you please.
I'm free to think so; and my outraged love
May yet forestall you in your perfidy,
And offer elsewhere both my heart and hand.
No doubt of it; the love your high deserts
May win . . .
Good Lord, have done with my deserts!
I know I have but few, and you have proved it.
But I may find more kindness in another;
I know of someone, who'll not be ashamed
To take your leavings, and make up my loss.
The loss is not so great; you'll easily
Console yourself completely for this change.
I'll try my best, that you may well believe.
When we're forgotten by a woman's heart,
Our pride is challenged; we, too, must forget;
Or if we cannot, must at least pretend to.
No other way can man such baseness prove,
As be a lover scorned, and still in love.
In faith, a high and noble sentiment.
Yes; and it's one that all men must approve.
What! Would you have me keep my love alive,
And see you fly into another's arms
Before my very eyes; and never offer
To someone else the heart that you had scorned?
Oh, no, indeed! For my part, I could wish
That it were done already.
What! You wish it?
This is insult heaped on injury;
I'll go at once and do as you desire.
(He takes a step or two as if to go away.)
Oh, very well then.
VALERE (turning back)
But remember this.
'Twas you that drove me to this desperate pass.
VALERE (turning back again)
And in the plan that I have formed
I only follow your example.
VALERE (at the door)
Enough; you shall be punctually obeyed.
So much the better.
VALERE (coming back again)
This is once for all.
So be it, then.
VALERE (He goes toward the door, but just as he reaches it, turns
You didn't call me?
I? You are dreaming.
Very well, I'm gone. Madam, farewell.
(He walks slowly away.)
I must say
You've lost your senses and both gone clean daft!
I've let you fight it out to the end o' the chapter
To see how far the thing could go. Oho, there,
(She goes and seizes him by the arm, to stop him. He makes a great
show of resistance.)
What do you want, Dorine?
No, no, I'm quite beside myself.
Don't hinder me from doing as she wishes.
No. You see, I'm fixed, resolved, determined.
Since my presence pains him, makes him go,
I'd better go myself, and leave him free.
DORINE (leaving Valere, and running after Mariane)
Now t'other! Where are you going?
Let me be.
No, no, it isn't any use.
'Tis clear the sight of me is torture to her;
No doubt, t'were better I should free her from it.
DORINE (leaving Mariane and running after Valere)
Same thing again! Deuce take you both, I say.
Now stop your fooling; come here, you; and you.
(She pulls first one, then the other, toward the middle of the stage.)
VALERE (to Dorine)
What's your idea?
MARIANE (to Dorine)
What can you mean to do?
Set you to rights, and pull you out o' the scrape.
Are you quite mad, to quarrel with her now?
Didn't you hear the things she said to me?
DORINE (to Mariane)
Are you quite mad, to get in such a passion?
Didn't you see the way he treated me?
Fools, both of you.
She thinks of nothing else
But to keep faith with you, I vouch for it.
And he loves none but you, and longs for nothing
But just to marry you, I stake my life on't.
MARIANE (to Valere)
Why did you give me such advice then, pray?
VALERE (to Mariane)
Why ask for my advice on such a matter?
You both are daft, I tell you. Here, your hands.
VALERE (giving Dorine his hand)
DORINE (to Mariane)
MARIANE (giving Dorine her hand)
But what's the use?
Oh, quick now, come along. There, both of you--
You love each other better than you think.
(Valere and Mariane hold each other's hands some time without looking
at each other.)
VALERE (at last turning toward Mariane)
Come, don't be so ungracious now about it;
Look at a man as if you didn't hate him.
(Mariane looks sideways toward Valere, with just a bit of a smile.)
My faith and troth, what fools these lovers be!
VALERE (to Mariane)
But come now, have I not a just complaint?
And truly, are you not a wicked creature
To take delight in saying what would pain me?
And are you not yourself the most ungrateful . . . ?
Leave this discussion till another time;
Now, think how you'll stave off this plaguy marriage.
Then tell us how to go about it.
We'll try all sorts of ways.
Your father's daft;
This plan is nonsense.
You had better humour
His notions by a semblance of consent,
So that in case of danger, you can still
Find means to block the marriage by delay.
If you gain time, the rest is easy, trust me.
One day you'll fool them with a sudden illness,
Causing delay; another day, ill omens:
You've met a funeral, or broke a mirror,
Or dreamed of muddy water. Best of all,
They cannot marry you to anyone
Without your saying yes. But now, methinks,
They mustn't find you chattering together.
You, go at once and set your friends at work
To make him keep his word to you; while we
Will bring the brother's influence to bear,
And get the step-mother on our side, too.
VALERE (to Mariane)
Whatever efforts we may make,
My greatest hope, be sure, must rest on you.
MARIANE (to Valere)
I cannot answer for my father's whims;
But no one save Valere shall ever have me.
You thrill me through with joy! Whatever comes . . .
Oho! These lovers! Never done with prattling!
VALERE (starting to go, and coming back again)
One last word . . .
What a gabble and pother!
Be off! By this door, you. And you, by t'other.
(She pushes them off, by the shoulders, in opposite directions.)
May lightning strike me dead this very instant,
May I be everywhere proclaimed a scoundrel,
If any reverence or power shall stop me,
And if I don't do straightway something desperate!
I beg you, moderate this towering passion;
Your father did but merely mention it.
Not all things that are talked of turn to facts;
The road is long, sometimes, from plans to acts.
No, I must end this paltry fellow's plots,
And he shall hear from me a truth or two.
So ho! Go slow now. Just you leave the fellow--
Your father too--in your step-mother's hands.
She has some influence with this Tartuffe,
He makes a point of heeding all she says,
And I suspect that he is fond of her.
Would God 'twere true!--'Twould be the height of humour
Now, she has sent for him, in your behalf,
To sound him on this marriage, to find out
What his ideas are, and to show him plainly
What troubles he may cause, if he persists
In giving countenance to this design.
His man says, he's at prayers, I mustn't see him,
But likewise says, he'll presently be down.
So off with you, and let me wait for him.
I may be present at this interview.
No, no! They must be left alone.
So much as speak to him.
Go on! We know you
And your high tantrums. Just the way to spoil things!
No, I must see--I'll keep my temper.
Out on you, what a plague! He's coming. Hide!
(Damis goes and hides in the closet at the back of the stage.)
TARTUFFE (speaking to his valet, off the stage, as soon as he sees
Dorine is there)
Lawrence, put up my hair-cloth shirt and scourge,
And pray that Heaven may shed its light upon you.
If any come to see me, say I'm gone
To share my alms among the prisoners.
What affectation and what showing off!
What do you want with me?
To tell you . . .
TARTUFFE (taking a handkerchief from his pocket)
Before you speak, pray take this handkerchief.
Cover up that bosom, which I can't
Endure to look on. Things like that offend
Our souls, and fill our minds with sinful thoughts.
Are you so tender to temptation, then,
And has the flesh such power upon your senses?
I don't know how you get in such a heat;
For my part, I am not so prone to lust,
And I could see you stripped from head to foot,
And all your hide not tempt me in the least.
Show in your speech some little modesty,
Or I must instantly take leave of you.
No, no, I'll leave you to yourself; I've only
One thing to say: Madam will soon be down,
And begs the favour of a word with you.
How gentle all at once!
My faith, I still believe I've hit upon it.
Will she come soon?
I think I hear her now.
Yes, here she is herself; I'll leave you with her.
May Heaven's overflowing kindness ever
Give you good health of body and of soul,
And bless your days according to the wishes
And prayers of its most humble votary!
I'm very grateful for your pious wishes.
But let's sit down, so we may talk at ease.
TARTUFFE (after sitting down)
And how are you recovered from your illness?
ELMIRE (sitting down also)