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MolièreReasoning With Fools$
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Michael Hawcroft

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199228836

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199228836.001.0001

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Tartuffe: the raisonneur as brother‐in‐law and polemicist

Tartuffe: the raisonneur as brother‐in‐law and polemicist

(p.78) 4 Tartuffe: the raisonneur as brother‐in‐law and polemicist

Michael Hawcroft (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with Cléante in Tartuffe, brother-in-law of the foolish protagonist Orgon. The play famously treats Christianity and caused a furore. In this connection, the role of Cléante in particular has divided critics. Some think that Molière deployed Cléante in order to defend Christianity, others that Cléante offers a comically inadequate defense. The chapter argues that Cléante is fully engaged in the plot as a determined defender of the interests of members of his family, highlighting in the process the blind folly of Orgon and, within the limited terms of the fictional world, offering what Molière might have hoped would be a sufficient defense of Christian values to allay further critical attacks.

Keywords:   Cléante, Orgon, Christianity, defense, attacks, folly, plot

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