“Enlightenment” in Europe essay

People have been deceived in so many ways that finding truth and incorporating it with life becomes a complicated matter. During the period of “Enlightenment” in Europe, there have been writers who showcased their concerns and embedded their sides of realizations through their writings and plays. One of these writers is Moliere. His play “Tartuffe” is a clear epitome of the period and the message of enlightenment. The play displayed a battle between reason and passion. Though reason defined the conclusion of the story, the whole play itself provided an equilibrium between the two.

Tartuffe’s storyline is a contrasting representation of reason and passion with the former edging out the latter. REASON TOWERS OVER PASSION IN “TARTUFFE” The play “Tartuffe” showcased different aspects of reasoning that turned the whole story around. Almost all of the characters have their own sides for their reasons but not all have the right conclusions. One example of this is Orgon, his passion for religion and his faith overpowers his reasoning which in turn led to Tartuffe’s actions of taking advantage of him and his family.

Tartuffe also provided reasoning that almost captured everyone in the story. His abilities to come up with deceptive reasoning became his power throughout the play though in the end he paid his dues. Tartuffe’s ability to manipulate people with his lies became the main concern of the plot and his mischievous exploits turned the whole family of Orgon around. This representation is a clear symbolism utilized by Moliere to characterize the deception and search for truth in the period of “Enlightenment”.

Moliere’s clear representation of certain characters easily displays the symbolism of reasoning and deception. Though reason is the main concern of the story, there are also clear implications of passion. One clear example of this is Orgon’s passion for his faith. He was blinded by passion which in turn led to Tartuffe’s power of deception. Another example of this is Tartuffe’s passion for deception and greed. Without Tartuffe’s passion for these aspects, his drive to take away everything from Orgon won’t be possible.

Tartuffe’s reputation as a deceiver; which was never known by Orgon and his family, not until the end, has become his life’s driving force. Another clear representation of passion is seen in Valere and Marianne. Though it is a form of passion incorporated with love, still it displayed clarity of passion, especially on Valere’s side of not giving up on love despite everything that happened. The whole story though implicated reason especially in the concluding stages, there were also times where a compromise between reason and passion occurred.

Feelings turned over the wonderful ending of Valere and Marianne’s love and in the end, with the help of Valere’s reasoning that assisted Orgon to realize Tartuffe’s deceiving actions, reason and passion blended well. It led to Orgon giving up the hand of his daughter to Valere that showcased a happy and romantic ending for the two. Another clear implication of passion compromising reason is Tartuffe’s lifestyle of deception. His bad reasoning in order for him to gain personal advances is entailed to his passion to deceive.

Though this example is a negative implication of reason and passion, there is still clear connection between the two. In the end, reason overruled passion. Why? Because passion never fully led a clear explanation of all the deceptions. Instead, reason provided answers for all the deceiving implications manifested by Tartuffe. Appropriate reasoning salvaged Orgon, his family and his wealth. With the help of the King’s realization of the truth, Orgon got what was right and Tartuffe payed for his evil actions. Reason solved a lot of the implicating problems and deceptions in the story.

Passion on the other hand led to Orgon’s downfall due to his uncontrollable and careless trust on Tartuffe. Orgon’s passion for his faith blinded him of all the treacheries that Tartuffe had acted upon. His passion led to Tartuffe’s power and advantage. But in the end, reason dominated deception and the truth always sets us free as they say. Tartuffe got what he deserved and Orgon claimed his rights, his family and his wealth back. The story of “Tartuffe” clearly dictates a feeling of satirical implications.

With regards to the history and the background of this play, there can be a knowledgeable conclusion that it blended well with the status of the period. Moliere daunted issues and displayed his side. The period of “Enlightenment” in Europe manifested a statement among the people that there is a deeper understanding about things that happen around them. With the help of plays such as this one, the search for a better grasp of the truth and how the world actually turns around becomes a more critical aspect in life especially to those who lived on during the late 17th century and during the period of “Enlightenment”.

CONCLUSION The play Tartuffe created huge implications for the search for critical thinking and reasoning. It also displayed the possibilities that a man’s life can be turned around by deceptions. A fitting statement to sum it all up is that man’s passion, if uncontrolled, can lead to blindness from reality, truth or reason. Being taken advantaged by other people, through the use of lies, implicates a weakness in man. Thus, there should be an equal balance with regards to passion and reason. Not all can be handled by just passion, there should always be reasons behind it.

Though passion provides man that driving force to do things in a more driven way, there should always be enough back-up realization and reasoning to shun away from regrets in the end. Tartuffe’s story is a clear reminder that not everything in this world is true. There are people who lie and take advantage of other people just to gain personal advantages. Thus, with Moliere’s great representation using this play, the message is shown clear that people should always make use of reason.


Frame, Donald. Tartuffe, and Other Plays by Moliere. USA: Signet Classics, 1967.