Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tartuffe - Pretense and Hypocrisy are to be laughed at

Molière was the pseudonym or stage name of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, a French playwright and actor who is considered one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. He came from a prosperous family and studied at the Jesuit Clermont College now known as Lycée Louis-le-Grand.

This Saturday Christine and I will have the opportunity to view the French comedy Tartuffe, presented by the players group at our local university. A tartuffe is a hypocrite, especially a hypocrite displaying affected morality or religious piety.Tartuffe is Molière’s most famous play and it was performed for the first time in 1664 at the fêtes held at Versailles. It was panned immediately, no, censored because of the outcry of the dévots no less, that is the "devout" people. Dévots was a term that referred to people who claimed to be religious but were religious frauds or hypocrites. They were also influential in King Louis XIV’s court. Because of them the play was suppressed. Perhaps it resembled a mirror for them.

Our English word derives from the Greek word hypokrisis which meant playing a part on a stage, or putting on a mask that represented reality but was not reality. Ancient Greek actors were known as hypocrites but of course at that time with no adverse connotation.

I have arrived at a place in my life where I am wearied by the games people play in the real world, by the masks worn. I love to be with sincere and transparent people. It’s always a subtle temptation to wear a mask depending upon whom you are with at the time.

You can read the entirety of Tartuffe online

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