Free research paper example on Tartuffe:
“Language is a skin. I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. In comedic texts, words are used not only to tell a comical story, but also to show the audience what the playwrights/producers were trying to express. Specifically, in narrative comedic texts such as Molierre’s “Tartuffe” and “American Beauty”, written and physical language are used to carry the plots as well as expose humor, arrogance, religious criticisms, manipulation, corrosive discourse, and hypocrisy.
Moliere’s Tartuffe doesn’t even introduce the main charter of the story until the third act of the play. Until that point Moliere had used the other characters and their words to create an image of Tartuffe. Orgon’s son Damis calls Tartuffe a “carping hypocrite” while Dorine in the first scene of Act One summarizes the entire situation with her line, “You see him as a saint. I’m far less awed; He’s a fraud.” Moliere’s characters are honest and sincere which causes the reader to immediately identify with them and through their descriptions creates a picture of Tartuffe as a liar and fake. Orgon and his mother side with Tartuffe at the beginning of the play and we feel frustrated because they have been duped by a fraud.
Once Tartuffe is introduced we meet a pious man who scolds Dorine for showing too much cleavage. Tartuffe’s overly zealous religious convictions immediately give him away as a fake. Moliere knows that people are not perfect and sees that certain people try too hard to project a false image of them, using Tartuffe as an example. Moliere doesn’t come out and directly tell us he believes that Tartuffe is a fake and that there were people in that time period within the clergy that acted much like Tartuffe.
The message that Moliere is trying to convey is solidified with the help of giving the hypocritical man a face with Tartuffe. He shows the stark contrast between what Tartuffe says and what he does, making Tartuffe’s character a “carping hypocrite”. When Tartuffe initially propositions Orgon’s wife we see the true Tartuffe. He is a man only out to fulfill his own needs and desires with no respect for God or his close friends. The reaction to the play shows that Moliere was not criticizing religion but the people involved. Moliere uses corrosive discourse by exposing the weakness and injustice of the clergy to the readers using his characters. In his preface to the play, Moliere quotes a conversation between the King and the prince in which the prince explains that the clergy was not offended by Moliere making game of religion, “but Moliere’s makes game of them; it is that which they cannot tolerate”.
“There is language in her eye, her cheek, her lip, Nay her foot speaks; her wanton spirits look out At every joint and motive of her body.” (William Shakespeare) The visual elements of Tartuffe allow the words to stand for more than just ‘mere’ words. The power of both play and film is that not only do the characters represent themselves through words, but also they are physically part of the action. Body language is perhaps just as powerful as the written word, and clarifies how the viewer is supposed to read the text. Depending on the way the reader looks at it, this can be argued as one advantage/disadvantage visual texts have over words. When Tartuffe is trying to win the affection of Dorine in the “exposure scene”, one might tell that he is up to no good by how he “says” his lines, and/or his actions when saying the lines. Here, Tartuffe’s selfish motives are exposed, as well as his body depending if the director/choreographer chooses to use that technique.
Film takes advantage of this physicality in the same way. Characters that are created to represent a stereotype or an idea, better exemplify their symbolism when they are a physical presence. In the film “American Beauty”, the reading of the text can be compared to that of Tartuffe, in that the combination of language, music, and people represent characters in a way that ‘mere’ words cannot. The whole idea behind American Beauty…”look closer” is a prime example of a characters physical and linguistic ability to manipulate situations and responses, much like Tartuffe. When we look closer, we can see the inner workings of these “tricky servant’s”, particularly Lester and Ricky Fitts.
The language that Lester uses is a prime example of his ability to be an iron, and have power over other people. Lester acts as tricky servant with his ability to “look closer” and see things that are otherwise invisible or hidden from others. Perhaps the best example of this is within Lester’s workplace. He uses corrosive discourse to undermine authority and has gained a sense of “anagnorisis”, which makes clear the injustice within his company. With this qualified knowledge, he has great power over his boss and manipulates him with language to gain what he wants, more money and no work. Lester’s physical language also gets him what he wants. In the opening scene, the viewer can see who holds the power in the family when Lester is slouched in the back seat of his wife’s car, while his daughter rides in the passenger seat. Lester’s narration over the film reinforces the idea that his family thinks little of him. However, as the narrative continues, one can see Lester gaining power whether he is throwing plates of asparagus, lifting weights, or speaking his mind for once.
Ricky Fitt’s is much like Lester in the sense that he has learned how to “play the game” with words. Ricky also knows how to get his way, and especially knows what people want to hear. Whenever Ricky’s father talks at him, Ricky automatically has an appropriate response that will mold his father’s reaction (much like Tartuffe). For example, when they are driving in the car and his father speaks negatively of gays, Ricky does the same to ease his father as well as mock him. However, Colonel Fitt’s cannot see this, and remains an allizon for most of the film. Fitt’s is also an allizon when he sees Ricky’s actions though a window, and seriously misconstrues a situation. The last example of Ricky’s power over his father is when they get in a fight at the end of the play and Ricky manipulates the situation and tells his father what he wants to hear, although Ricky believes otherwise. He ends the argument by saying how he needs structure and rules, and “don’t give up on me dad”. Once again, Colonel Fitts’s mood is altered.
Plays have an advantage over words because of their ability to combine the above elements. Whether it is Moliere showing Tartuffe through descriptions before he has even been introduced to the audience, or Ricky Fitt’s deceiving his father through words and actions, language combined with the physical nature of the play creates characters that represent ideas more intensely than words alone.
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