CliffsNotes on Moliére’s Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, and The Bourgeois Gentleman

CliffsNotes on Moliére’s Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, and The Bourgeois Gentleman

CliffsNotes on Moliére’s Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, and The Bourgeois Gentleman

CliffsNotes on Moliére’s Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, and The Bourgeois Gentleman


General Plot Summary: Madame Pernelle is visiting her son’s house and uses the opportunity to criticize all the members of the house and to praise their boarder, Tartuffe, because he is a man of such holiness and zeal. The others present offer objections to Tartuffe, maintaining that he is false and hypocritical, but Madame Pernelle will not entertain such thoughts. As she leaves, she admonishes everyone to follow Tartuffe’s precepts. After Madame Pernelle’s departure, Cl6ante and Dorine talk about Tartuffe and both agree that he has beguiled Orgon. Damis wonders if his father will still allow Mariane to marry Valère; Damis must know Orgon’s feelings because he wants to marry Valère”s sister. He asks Cl6ante to question Orgon about his promise to allow the marriage to take place. Orgon arrives and seems much more concerned about the welfare of Tartuffe than he is about his wife’s illness. Cléante tries to discuss Tartuffe with Orgon, but fails and discovers that Orgon is only interested in singing Tartuffe’s praises. When Orgon is questioned about the intended wedding, he dodges the issues and refuses to give a direct answer...


Molière is the pseudonym for jean Baptiste Poquelin, one of the greatest comic geniuses the world has seen, and undoubtedly the master of “social comedy.” Almost single-handed, he prompted international acclaim for French social comedy, and established the form as one of the more enduring types of comedy. In the plays, he analyzed many aspects of his contemporary society and penetrated into the essential characteristics of various types of people. His critical insights into the nature of types like the hypocrite, the misanthrope, and the miser remain almost as urbane today as they were when written.

Molière was born in Paris, France, in 1622, the son of rather prosperous middle-class parents, who sent him to good schools to be trained in law. However, somewhere along the way, Molière fell in love with the theater and was to devote his entire life to the theatrical profession.

He probably received a law degree in about 1641–42, but thereafter he joined three other people to form a theater company called L’Illustre Theatre. At this time acting was not held in the highest esteem, to begin with, so when Molière consorted with a woman in his troupe named Madeleine Bejart, it only proved to his bourgeois parents that their son was lost. Molière was actually to remain acquainted with this woman for the rest of her life. In 1662, he married nineteen-year-old Armande Bejart, a vivacious flirt who gathered numerous admirers around her, much to the chagrin of her husband. Legend has it that four years later, Armande would become the model for the capricious and flirtatious Célimène in The Misanthrope. She did however, bear him three children before his untimely death in 1673, the third child being born in 1672, the year before Molière’s death.

The company Molière helped establish did not fare too well and went bankrupt during its second season. During this time, he was often plagued by creditors and it was also then that he began to use the name “Molière.”

He continued in his career as an actor in another company for about ten more years before he turned his hand to playwriting. In the interim years, he also gained experience in directing and managing. By the time he began to write, he was known as one of . . .

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