How Did Tartuffe Influence English Theatre

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England and France in the 1600s were a time of renewal and change for the theatre. It was a time where religion and government were battling for control of their respected countries. This time period was also a time for new discoveries such as the exploration of the New World, science and technological innovations, city growth, and the beginning of the mercantile economy (Gainor, Garner, and Puchner 31). During this time in history, two of the most legendary playwrights, William Shakespeare and Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, also known as Molière, introduced their timeless plays to the world. Two of their greatest comedic plays were Twelfth Night; or, What You Will, by William Shakespeare, and Tartuffe, by Molière. Though these two plays were…show more content…
The first thing to discuss is the history during the time these plays were first performed. Learning this history will also give an insight into how the original performance might have looked like. English theatre in the 1600s was an interesting time. Anyone of any social class could go to see the theatre, how much a person paid, determined where they would be seated at the show. The cheapest cost of admission was only a penny. People who paid a penny to the shows were called “groundlings” and stood in the space surrounding the theatre (40). Since performances the theatre put on were a big crowd attractor, there were usually thieves and gamblers about ( Because of the Protestant church’s disgust of the theatre and the complaints of respectable citizens and city officials, theatre during the 1600s was banned from the actual city of London ( To escape this ban, many public theatres were built in suburbs to the…show more content…
The first theme in Tartuffe is the hypocrisy in religion. The character of Tartuffe is, supposedly, a pious man, who has divine authority, who acts as a consultant for Orgon and Madame Pernelle. In truth, Tartuffe is actually a vagrant and very hypocritical man. He is both very greedy and lustful. He uses his influence he has gained by Orgon, before he is found out, to actually gain all of Orgon’s worldly possessions and almost have Orgon banished from his own house. He also pines over Orgon’s wife Elmire and makes advances on her at every given opportunity. The show is showing the hypocrisy in the actual Catholic Church at the time. The second theme is lies. Tartuffe, the character, is a liar. He says he is a pious man of god, but in reality he is a vagrant who swindles people. He is not the only one who was a liar in the play. Elmire, wife of Orgon, lies many times in attempt to unmask Tartuffe’s deceitful nature. When Damis, Orgon’s son, tried to reveal Tartuffe’s identity to Orgon the reaction he gets him nowhere, while Elmire’s lies get Tartuffe’s actions revealed. The final theme in Tartuffe is love and marriage. Love and marriage was a very different thing back in Molière’s time. Back in the 1600s, marriage was usually used as alliance makers between two families and the match was agreed upon by the father of the family. It was also used in this way to keep the

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