The titular character is a hypocrite and charlatan who disguises himself as a man of great piety. He is sensuous, cunning, and manipulative. While little is known about Tartuffe's background, his pious posturing earns him an invitation into the gullible Orgon's house. The rest of the family sees his true nature, but it is not until his lust for Elmire overcomes him that he loses control.
Husband of Elmire, father of Damis and Mariane, and master of the house, Orgon is a gullible man whose embrace of Tartuffe over his own family's well-being enables the play's central conflict. Though he later learns the truth, his impetuous nature has allowed Tartuffe tools to destroy them nevertheless.
Wife of Orgon and stepmother to Damis and Mariane, the young Elmire is an intelligent, crafty woman who uses Tartuffe's lust for her to unmask him. It is mentioned that she comes from money herself.
Son of Orgon, stepson of Elmire, and brother of Mariane, Damis is hotheaded and irascible like his father, and continually proposes violent and brash measures to get rid of Tartuffe.
Daughter of Orgon, stepdaughter of Elmire, and sister of Damis, Mariane is a sweet and steadfastly obedient girl who wishes to marry Valere. When Orgon attempts to force a marriage between her and Tartuffe, the play's conflict escalates.
The household maid, Dorine is brassy, bold, and opinionated; she is also perhaps the most intelligent and clear-headed member of the household. It is she who tries to foil Tartuffe's designs, open Orgon's eyes, and encourage the young lovers to remain steadfast in their devotions to one another.
Mother of Orgon and grandmother of Damis and Mariane, Madame Pernelle is a judgmental woman contemptuous of her family's ways. She is the first to present Tartuffe as a bastion of morality.
Mariane's beloved fiance, Valere is a kind and generous man who ultimately reveals his loyalty to the family when he brings news of the warrant for Orgon's arrest.
The brother-in-law of Orgon and uncle to Damis and Mariane, Cleante is the voice of reason. He counsels temperance of opinion to Orgon, first suggesting he be skeptical of Tartuffe, and later that he not judge all religious men as frauds.
The bailiff who delivers a summons to expel the family from their house. He presents a gentle demeanor but is actually quite uncaring.
A police officer, sent by the King to confirm the King's suspicions that Tartuffe is a fraud and that Orgon and his family were unfairly treated by the hypocrite.
Madame Pernelle's servant. She has no lines.
Tartuffe's manservant. He has no lines.
Tartuffe Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Tartuffe is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
If the function of comedy is to correct men's vices, I do not see why any should be exempt. Such a condition in our society would be much more dangerous than the thing itself; and we have seen that the theater is admirably suited...
The titular character is a hypocrite and charlatan who disguises himself as a man of great piety. He is sensuous, cunning, and manipulative. While little is known about Tartuffe's background, his pious posturing earns him an invitation...