Listen to the voice of reason has become a cliché today but it is as relevant now as it was in the past Societal norms can become excessive and even taken to the extreme Whether the idea is fanatic religious pursuits political correctness or political ideologies ideas that start out as the norm or appropriate often become outliers Therefore it is important to surround oneself with reasonable thinking people In Jean Baptiste Moliere's Tartuffe satirical extremes in religious confidence obedience and order are on display In the play the voice of reason comes primarily from two characters Cleante and Dorine Cleante and Dorine act as the voice of reason during the play when interacting with Madame Pernelle Mariane and Orgon Madame Pernelle unreasonably believes in the piety of Tartuffe but Cleante and Dorine attempt to expose that he is a fraud by appealing to reason Dorine states There was no vow of poverty he's poor And he was just some beggar at the door 1 1 67 68 demonstrating that Tartuffe was taking advantage of his financial situation in order to prey upon the family specifically Orgon Later in the play after Tartuffe s true nature has been found out by Orgon and he has run to inform the king Madame Pernelle doesn t believe her son s accounts of the prior events and begins to argue with Orgon about the sincerity of Tartuffe s faith Cleante disrupts the argument by refocusing the danger the family is in by stating Why are we wasting time with all of this
We're standing on the edge of the abyss This man is dangerous He has a plan 5 3 60 62 Moliere shows that even the argument between Madame Pernelle and Orgon is ridiculous and unreasonable in its timing and uses Cleante to display the real gravity of the situation Dorine uses sarcasm to exhibit reasonable thinking when interacting with Mariane This sarcasm is displayed in No no of course not God forbid we bother the way the world sees you What people see what other people think of us 2 3 58 60 Moliere is explaining that it is reasonable to only consider what one can control and to not be concerned with the thoughts of others If you are too concerned with what other s think then you will be miserable living your life trying to live up to the expectations of others Each daughter must choose always to say yes To what her father wants no more and no less 2 3 78 79 sarcastically continues Dorine elaborating on the concept that being too concerned with the thoughts or desires of others will cause one to feel unhappy It also demonstrates that abiding entirely on the natural order of agreeing to do whatever her father desires can be unreasonable Dorine and Cleante make numerous attempts to reason with Orgon about being blinded by religious ideology and later they also warn him of being totally skeptic of all religious figures Early on Orgon has total faith in Tartuffe s religious devotion but Cleante tries to sway this extreme thought Moliere has Cleante express the concept of having Reason and sacred intertwined 1 5 91 This is done to show that one can have faith without being a mindless sheep blind to the happenings around them all in the name of their faith Cleante warns Orgon of religious figures who take what's sacred and most holy And use it as their trade for money soley 1 5 130 131
Cleante is trying to point out that the reasonable thing is to find those religious men who are true in what they practice and not to take such extreme stances Cleante and Dorine are the guide to reason in the play and it is important to learn the relevant lessons taught by Moliere through these characters Today aspects such as political correctness or political ideology can be taken to the extreme When one is too far to the extreme edges of the plane it hinders them from seeing the bigger picture It causes them to shut off their senses and even the sense of reason Work Cited Moliere Jean Baptiste Tartuffe The Norton Anthology of World Literature Edited by Martin Puchner Suzanne Akbari Wiebke Denecke Vinay Dharwadker Barbara Fuchs Caroline Levine Pericles Lewis and Emily Wilson 3rd ed Vol 2 New York W W Norton Company 2013 14 68 Print
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