Saturday, October 14, 2006

Moliere, Monologue from Tartuffe

A monologue from the play by Molière
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Dramatic Works of Molière, Vol. II. Ed. Charles Heron Wall. London: George Bell & Sons, 1898.

This play was performed in the 1660's in France and I thought that folks might find this interesting in comparison to Shakespeare. RNC

TARTUFFE: Our love for the beauty which is eternal, stifles not in us love for that which is fleeting and temporal; and we can easily be charmed with the perfect works Heaven has created. Its reflected attractions shine forth in such as you; but it is in you alone that its choicest wonders are centred. It has lavished upon you charms which dazzle the eye, and which touch the heart; and I have never gazed on you, perfect creature, without admiring the Creator of the universe, and without feeling my heart seized with an ardent love for the most beautiful picture in which He has reproduced Himself. At first I feared that this secret tenderness might be a skilful assault of the evil one; I even thought I would avoid your presence, fearing you might prove a stumbling-block to my salvation. But I have learnt, O adorable beauty, that my passion need not be a guilty one; that I can reconcile it with modesty; and I have given up my whole soul to it. I know that I am very presumptuous in making you the offer of such a heart as mine; but in my love I hope everything from you, nothing from the vain efforts of my unworthy self. In you is my hope, my happiness, my peace; on you depends my misery or bliss; and by your verdict I shall be for ever happy, if you wish it; unhappy if it pleases you. I know that such language from me seems somewhat strange; but after all, I am not an angel; and, if you condemn the confession I make, you have only your own attractions to blame for it. As soon as I beheld their more than human beauty, my whole being was surrendered to you. The unspeakable sweetness of your divine charms forced the obstinate resistance of my heart; it overcame everything -- fasting, prayers, and tears -- and fixed all my hopes in you. A thousand times my eyes and my sighs have told you this; to-day I explain myself with words. Ah! if you consider with some kindness the tribulations and trials of your unworthy slave, if your goodness has compassion on me, and deigns to stoop so low as my nothingness, I shall ever have for you, O marvellous beauty, a devotion never to be equalled. With me your reputation runs no risk, and has no disgrace to fear. All those court gallants upon whom women dote, are noisy in their doings, boastful in their talk. Ever vain of their success, they never receive favours without divulging them; and their indiscreet tongues dishonour the altar on which their hearts sacrifice. But men like me burn with a hidden flame, and secrecy is for ever assured. The care which we take of our own reputation is a warrant to the woman who accepts our heart, that she will find love without scandal, and pleasure without fear.


Blogger daltonRussell said...

I see a direct resemblance in the way this man his describing his love for this and the way Romeo described his love for Juliet. Though many different words were used, the men both are saying the same things. They are both putting the women they are trying to court up on a god-like level and are essentially giving the women ultimate power. In those times, women didn't have many choices at all, but it seems that they were the ones that decided whether or not men were worthy for them and not the other way around. When the men use words like "servant", this is not only giving the woman the choice of the relationship but it is also giving the woman power over the whole relationship in general, which seems like an oxy-moron for it's time.

12:59 PM  
Blogger AimerVoyage said...

I agree. I find this very similar to Romeo’s perspective of love. This man is subjecting himself to the woman that he loves without any concern for himself or his future. He is willing to be unhappy if it so pleases her. Yes, this does give the woman the power, but if this is anything like courtly love, there is not much power to be had. The man pursues the woman endlessly, pining for the rest of his life… until she says yes. Love in this time was a game (much like today). The fun was in the chase, not in the catch. The whole idea is that the woman is unobtainable. The moment that she becomes obtainable, she is no longer a player. He must move on to someone else. The woman has the power to make the man her subject, which is precisely what he wants. But since he is leading her into this situation, is it she who really has the power?

2:52 PM  
Blogger pinkismyfavoritecolor said...

Like the others have said before me, this monologue is strikingly similar to Romeo and Juliet. Here, like in Romeo and Juliet, a man is giving himself up to a women so much that the man seems to no longer have an existance aside from the woman. This passing on of "self" is the case in Romeo and Juliet: Romeo didn't even get to enjoy his freedom from feudalism because he had given himself completely to Juilet. I find this whole idea rather ironic though, when one thinks of the rights of women because in the time, women werent even considered equal although they possessed more power over men than the men were willing to admit.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Magic Chicken said...

I tend to agree that this monologue sounds very similar to the ideas that Romeo had of Juliet. Feudal society was essentially composed of blood: the bloodlines made the person. Romeo broke all ties with feudalism and his own blood to become a melancholic individual. This melancholy left an empty void that needed to be filled. That's why Romeo was looking for a woman to love: to give him a new purpose. Similarly, this monologue also seems to be from the perspective of a man who has given up his identity in society. He has “given up” his soul, which could be considered his identity, to this woman. He practically worships the ground that she walks on due to her beauty. However, this differs because Romeo doesn't really mention God all that much in any of his monologues and soliloquies. I find it interesting that the person giving us this monologue is finding a way to tie this woman into God (she is compared as a perfect image of God and something that is not sinful to worship), where as some of Shakespeare's works tend to severe the connection with God instead. For instance, King Richard II was a legitimate king under God that connected all of the people to God, but Bolingbroke overthrew him; thus the connection to God was broken. Romeo never really had much of a connection to God to begin with since Romeo and Juliet begins after this connection is already severed. Of course, worshiping this woman in the monologue is not exactly following God either. However, this man seems to be using his awe of God's work as a slingshot to center his life around this woman that might not even return his love.

10:13 PM  
Blogger AubergineClementine said...

Oh, the French and their love. I admire the way Moliere presents this dramatic, romantic monologue similarly to Shakespeare; the language is intricate with lots of adjectives and descriptions as well as a good bit of religious allusion, also common to Shakespeare, such as when Juliet requests that when she dies, God should make Romeo's face out of the stars so that she can always see his face when she looks at the night sky. Also, the fact that the lover in the monologue, like Romeo, denies his name (as others blogging have also mentioned)and doesn't worry about "reputation;" that is, the reaction of others to the relationship he is attempting to continue. The speaker is also comparable to Romeo and his melancholic nature in saying that "men like him burn with a hidden flame," which separates him from the more manly and feudal-ideal-oriented males in literature of the time (Tybalt in R&J, etc.).

8:08 PM  
Blogger wishlahaylagon said...

I believe that the bloggers before me have driven home teh connections between Romeo and this man. A point that sticks out to me though is the following: "But men like me burn with a hidden flame, and secrecy is for ever assured." Right before this the man spoke of the men women take interest in and how they talk about their "escapades" with these women and by allowing their tongues to wag they prove that they really don't care about the women that they are in relationships with. And he claims through the passage written above that by him respecting a woman and not talking about teh "relationship" or want of one all the time that what he has to offer will last and is much better than other men. This reminds me of the conversations we have had in class about the nice guys finishing last. "Frat guys" vs. our tender hearted men in the Honors class who are given considerably less attention than other guys who treat women without respect and throw everything they think about women and how they feel around without much regard. But what I don't understand is what good is something so great if someone keeps keep it hidden? HOw can it be of any use to teh man or women? It makes both miserable it seems because it is not easy to uncover what another person is thinking if they 'keep it trapped inside'. At least with the frat guys a woman can have an idea of what they are thinking.

Now there's and observation and a half-formed opinion which I can't go farther with without being a hypocrite to what I'm saying so I'll leave it be now.

7:21 AM  
Blogger The Filthy Titan said...

And I thought *I* was long-winded.

The man is actually intriguing in light of Shakespeare- rather than making classical allusions to Greek figures or more pagan ideals (the moon, to give a Romeo/Juliet example of the latter), the man is constantly referencing only God, and the devil at times. Somehow I get a kick out of his allusion to a "skilful assault by the evil one"- it's endearing and bizarre all at once. If I was told I was so handsome that I had to be a demon, I know I'd be both touched and utterly disturbed all at once.

That last really sums this up, somehow- Shakespeare's lovers always strike me as knowing that, while things might end badly, they love each other. This guy is not worried that he'll be screwed in the future- heck, if anything, he's planned for it. He's love without scandal, pleasure without fear... this guy knows how to make a *life* out of things.
Unlike Shakespeare's lovers, who always despair that "the world" is coming against them, and never end up really living with each other (they die "tragically"), Tartuffe, despite having a name that looks like it should rhyme with "powderpuff", is planning on a future with his desire.

I think that may be why I like this guy more; not just his "so-beautiful-you-must-be-the-devil" bit that still manages to sound endearing, but because he actually wants to live with this woman, and has "cleaned himself up" just so that when he meets his perfect woman, he can give her love without scandal. That's the sort of dedication and honor I admire.

Shakespeare's so concerned with breaking down feudalism that he never considers that his heroes must live with their decisions. Even those who survive to get married don't strike me as a "couple" that can stay married- just people who are madly lusting after each other. Tartuffe?

Tartuffe seems much more stable, if somewhat more religious. Maybe a correlation?

8:44 AM  
Blogger thisismyname said...

I'm sorry to beat the dead horse again, but this piece can definitely be applied to Romeo from Romeo and Juliet. To me, the beginning even sounds similar to the scene where Romeo stands under Juliet's balcony and talks about her. The line "Its reflected attractions shine forth in such as you" reminds me of Romeo comparing Juliet to the sun in Act II, Scene 2. Using the same passage from Romeo and Juliet, both pieces make use of religious examples to describe their loves. The character in Moliere's play says "[her] divine charms forced the obstinate resistance of my heart; it overcame everything -- fasting, prayers, and tears." The object of this man's affections overpowered his heart more than praying or anything of the sort could do. It's like she has a heavenly power. In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo calls Juliet an angel, "a winged messenger of heaven" ( Both Moliere's character and Romeo have similar ideas about love.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Beatrice Baudelaire said...

Yes, Tartuffe is as passionate as Romeo. However, he is not nearly as innocent. He is also trying to get her to bed in the same vein as the poems you've probably read: Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" and Marlowe's "Passionate Shepard to His Love." I do not go as far as to doubt his true passion for the lady he pursues because his initial words were captivating but his intent is undeniable as he promises "love without scandal and pleasure without fear." He assures her he will protect their reputation and criticizes the men who openly treat women as conquests. These passionate men are the lovers that women melt for (Think Johnny Depp in Chocolat). In a society that oppresses women, his statement that he is nothing worthy of her and she is everything to be admired is ten times as charming as today (although it is still quite charming).

3:53 PM  
Blogger Willow said...

I would have to disagree with the bloggers who see a direct link with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Yes there are some similarities, but the man in this monologue is much more concerned with God than they are giving him credit for. He talks about heaven and hell, angels and demons...Why he even refers to the loss of his salvation. Romeo was never concerned with any of these things; God was hardly even mentioned. It is obvious that this man is really worried about his after life...not just the pleasures that burn in him at the present time. He reasons out his thoughts before he acts...very unlike Romeo.

7:12 PM  
Blogger swiffer_mop1234 said...

I agree with daltonrussell. There are many similarities between Shakespeare's romance plays and this monologue. One thing I noticed however that seemed to be alittle bit different, is that in this monologue he does mention having beauty on the inside. He only says one sentence about it, but he does mention it. It sounds to me like this man is begging his love to take him. It seems a little pitiful to me. Although it seems like that is how things were back then, since in comparison to Romeo and Juliet it is very similar.

7:33 PM  
Blogger bob_barker_is_my_hero said...

I disagree with aimervoyage's comment. It doesn't make sense that once the woman becomes obtainable that the man has to move on to someone else. Wouldn't that suggest that he never even loved her to begin with? If men in this time all held the idea that once a woman was obtainable they had to move on then no one would have ever gotten married. The whole idea that a man would pursue a woman only to lose interest when she gains interest is absurd. That's not what happened in Romeo an Juliet. Romeo did not leave Juliet after they pledged love to one another and decided to get married.

8:58 AM  
Anonymous my_name_was_taken said...

I believe that while there are many differences between the two, there are many similarities in the way that love is declared in this passage from Moliere and the way it is declared in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet through the character of Romeo. Romeo, as well as the man in the passage, both admire their women greatly, so much that it could possibly be considered complete devotion. The comparisons between the movie "Moliere" and the movie "Shakespeare in Love" are also hard to avoid.
I thought it was very interesting how both men were somewhat worshiping their women, in a feudal like society where it was thought that a man should not be this way toward a woman. It seems odd that both writers would incorporate this idea.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Kayla Meadows said...

First and foremost, I will say that, as a theatre student, I have a profound respect and admiration for both Shakespare and Moliere, particularly because, when looking at this monologue again, I can see, as a writer and an actress, a vast difference in style and tone.

Moliere's use of language is beautiful in an entirely different manner than Shakespeare -where Shakespeare's is perfect in rhythm, it can occasionally be stiff, whereas everything I have thus far gathered from Moliere's works is simply incredible as far as flow is concerned. The language is flawless in execution -every word placed to reflect another and shine in its own right. This monologue, in particular, is simply BEAUTIFUL. There are no other words.

Shakespeare, of course, is beautiful, as well, and I will always be a fanatic in regards to his work, particularly his sonnets, which bear a stronger resemblance to Moliere in style than his plays. In an effort to make more profound statements, I believe that he sometimes sacrificed that beautiful, if not slightly romantic and fluffy, style that Moliere perpetuated, which is perfectly fine when one looks at the overall profoundly fantastic quality of Shakespeare.

I cannot sing enough praises for either of these authors, but I can say that it would be an extremely difficult decision, despite their differences, to choose between one or the other as an actress, director, or designer. They are both reknowned parts of theatre and the rich history of it.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly loved this. I thought it was amazingly beautiful. Though there fore a second I thought he was talking about/to a painting… which was awkward then I was like, naaa….

Anyways, this was really and truly an amazingly beautiful writing. I thought it was beautiful. And at the time that this was wrote I’m sure a lot of guys where how he described them as being boastful and talkative about their wins. Heck this is something that hasn’t changed throughout time as it is. Males will get a score and spread it around like wild fire and everyone will know about it and the person he was with would be considered easy.

This monologue just makes it seem like girls are worth fighting for and holding on to, and if I weren’t gay I would have to agree with this monologue. Heck I agree now but not for the same reasons as the characters.

But as I said I really enjoyed this, it was very poetic, soothing and romantic.

9:08 AM  

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