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In Tartuffe, Orgon, is a financially stable family man. He makes the mistake of taking in a stranger called Tartuffe to stay in his home. Initially, Tartuff is depicted to be extremely sanctimonious, and a devoted religious person. To make matters worse, Orgon offers Tartuffe the best of everything he has to an extent Orgon places his needs above those of his wife, daughter and son. He goes further to force his daughter to get married to Tartuffe. As if this was not enough, he disinherits his son making Tartuffe his exclusive. All of Orgon's friends and family do not like Tartuffe and they consider him an opportunistic and evil man hiding under the guise of religion. Despite constant warnings from his close friends and family, Orgon is still keen to believe all the lies Tartuffe tells. The truth is revealed when Orgon overhears Tartuffe trying to seduce his wife. Orgon is so disappointed and annoyed that the orders Tartuffe to leave his house immediately. However, Tartuffe is not ready to oblige, and he results to black mail. He uses this to try and seize all of Orgon's property as well as have Orgon arrested. In the end, however, the king intervenes and Tartuffe is arrested. This restores peace and harmony in Orgon’s household. The characters portrayed in this play represent those people in society who preach water but instead they take wine. This means they preach religious piety while they do not abide by the morals they are preaching.
Summary of Othello by William Shakespeare
Othello, on the other hand, is a play that has its setting in Venice. Lago, enlist the help of Roderigo, in his plan to destroy Othello. Lago secretly despises Othello and tells Roderigo. This is because; Roderigo was a rejected suitor to Desdemona, Othello’s wife. Desdemona and Othello elope and this angers many people. Brabantio, Desdemonas father, accuse Othello of using magic ti win his daughters love. However, Desdemona confesses her devotion and love to her husband. Subsequently, Othello is sent to Cyprus on a defense mission, leaving Lago to ensure Desdemona’s and Emilia safely got to Cyprus. Emilia was Lago’s wife as well as Desdemona’s attendant. Lago convinced Roderigo to follow Desdemona to Cyprus where he would implicate Michael Cassio in an affair with Desdemona. When Othello returns, Lago urges Roderigo to incite Cassio into a fight. Later that evening during Othello’s wedding feast, Lago makes Cassio get drunk. This resulted in Othello dismissing Cassio from service. Lago frames Cassio as having an affair with Desdemona and this leads to a trial hearing where Lago manipulated facts to make Cassio and Desdemona seem guilty. Othello feels betrayed by his wife and despite Desdemona, and Cassio claims of innocence, he kills her. However, Emilia realizes that Lago had used her to frame Cassio, and she confesses this to Othello. Othello confronts Lago and the two get into a fight. The officials intervene and try to arrest both men. However, Othello commits suicide with a hidden weapon leaving Lago to live in prison miserable.
Differences and similarities between the two plays
The main theme in Othello by Shakespeare is jealousy. The play demonstrates how jealousy can enslave people over powering all other forces including the strongest form of love which is marriage. In addition to this, jealousy drives one to seek revenge in the guise of justice. On the other hand, the main theme of Tartuffe by Moliere is hypocrisy. Unlike what many believe, Tartuffe is not actually a play that mocking religion or godliness rather it is a play that is attacking hypocrisy. Even though the play has many references to religion, the objective is not to criticize. In addition to this, the plays main character is depicted as a “holy” man. Tartuffe, thus, uses the aspect of religion to prove the fact that he is so holy. He uses this as a weapon to swindle people. He is an opportunist, a traitor swindler, who will go to any length to gain what he wants. Therefore, the author has used religion to best conceal his objectives from the naive Orgon. The play is generally about not being an extremist rather taking the middle road.
Both plays revolve around marriage. In both plays, the trust in the respective marriages is challenged. For example, in Tartuffe, Orgon and Elmire are married. However, Tartuffe manages to come between the two and plant doubt in Orgon. As a result, Orgon fails to believe what his wife tells him and opts to believe Tartuffe instead. Eventually, towards the end of the story, Orgon realizes his wife’s claims were true. The story, thus, has a fantastic ending. In Othello, by Shakespear , the same case applies. Othello refuses to believe his wife Desdemona despite her constant pleas to him to believe her. Eventually, he kills her out of rage and because he felt hurt that she had betrayed him by being unfaithful. However, he soon learns the truth, and he commits suicide. This play has a sad ending because of this lack of trust.
2) Setting and Neoclassical aspects
The settings of both plays differ in that Tartuffe is in the home setting where Orgon and his family both nuclear and extended reside. Othello, on the other hand, is in a different setting with soldiers going to war. Shakespeare’s Othello was not considered a realistic play by Neoclassic. This is because; the events that transpire in the play are not likely to occur in real life. An example of this is that an ordinary person would not in real life go to the extremes Lago went in his pursuit of power and revenge. He not only lies and manipulates, but also he plots murder. However, Tartuffe was considered a realistic play. This is because; Valere and Mariane love each other but Orgon wants to marry her off to Tartuffe. She refuses. Towards the end of the play, Tartuffe the villain is apprehended by the king’s soldiers to pay for his evil ways. Justice is executed in this play and Orgon and his family live peacefully thereafter. This can happen in real life hence the play is realistic while Othello is not realistic.
Both plays are not morality plays. Morality plays are supposed to help the audience get pointers on the responsible way to live life. It also teaches the audience on how to live better than before. In Othello, the storyline and the characters do not in any way do not show any sign of morality. The people are liars, murderers, and promiscuous above other evil traits. In Tartuffe, the characters and story line do not also show morality to their audience. Thus, both plays are not morality plays.
In Othello, there is an upstanding guy who in this case is Othello. However, he falls prey to the manipulation of Lago and he believes the lies he hears. In addition to this, he kills his wife who loved him exceedingly. The play characters relate to the people in real life. In Tartuffe, the characters represent middle to high-class family living in the town. This would relate to their audience to some level. Thus, both plays have generality since the audience can recognize the characters and relate to their experiences.
In conclusion; both plays have aspects of neoclassic attributes although Tartuffe has more than Othello. In addition to the two plays being entertaining and educative, they give people a chance to get a glimpse of what the world was like in those days.