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Women’s wisdom in Tartuff

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Moliere’s comedy Tartuffe depicts women who can be described as straightforward, bold-spirited, witty, and loyal. In Tartuffe Dorine and Elmire displayed well-developed, independent and intelligent characters while Madame Pernelle and Mariane weren’t as well developed intellectually in the play as Dorine and Elmire.

In the play Tartuffe, Dorine and Elmire challenged the masculine role model Orgon to preserve the traditional way of life. Dorine takes on a masculine characteristics and attitudes and defeat Orgon physically and mentally. Dorine is a wise servant who sees through all pretenses and while being inferior in terms of social position; she is the superior in any contest of wisdom. In a time when women were revered as brainless incubators, Dorine provides feminine insight and the raw sensibility of a woman. Dorine, a low-class lady’s maid to Mariane in Tartuffe, uses the true voice of reason in this play. She sees Tartuffe; this holy man brought into the household by Orgon, for the wily opportunist fake that he is.

Elmire on the other hand acts almost like a hero in the play. She was a character of reason. Elmire uses her wisdom to figure out what were Tartuffe real intensions and she plots a way to reveal to her husband that he is nothing but a hypocrite. The unmasking of the villain was a plot that Elmire had set up. A wise plot because she saved her family from much pain and misery that Tartuffe would have caused. Madame Pernelle on the other hand is not as wise as Elmire and Dorine. Madame Pernelle is seen as gullible and consistent. At the beginning of the play she ridicules her family and compares them to Tartuffe. She thinks Tartuffe is a saint and shows how much in this phrase: “whatever he reproves deserves reproof / He’s out to save your souls”. She made this statement earlier in the play. Madame Pernelle doesn’t see the true colors of Tartuffe until her son had to forcefully tell her that Tartuffe was a hypocrite. Madame Pernelle didn’t have much wisdom as Dorine and Elmire to figure out Tartuffe real character.

Mariane is not as intellect as Dorine or Elmire in the play Tartuffe. She would have married Tartuffe and end her relationship with Valere if it wasn’t for her maid Dorine. Mariane is more seen as a shy person who is not quite outspoken. She is very timid and all she knows best is to listen to her father. There was little wisdom showed on behalf of Mariane for when she decided not marry Tartuffe because she to believe he was a fraud.

All these women above played different roles in Tartuffe and their intellect ability or level all had some affect on the family. The two women who really changed social order and challenge the masculine gender a lot were Elmire and Dorine.

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