Religious hypocrisy exploration is one of the central themes of Tartuffe. This is contrasted to the true Christian virtues. The author uses Tartuffe to exhibit hypocrisy in the society. Tartuffe creates an outward manifestation of an extremely piety and religious devotion but, he secretly does a lot of crimes and immoral behaviors. Throughout the play, Tartuffe is referred to as a hypocrite who does not practice what he preaches. For instance, he instructs his servants to tell those who ask for him that he is busy helping the poor but, the reality was that he was busy seducing his friend’s wife. Tartuffe displays an outward show of religious devotion when he assumes a stance of moral authority and tells the other members on the household how to behave.
Tartuffe symbolizes the way in which people present an outward appearance to others which hides their true character. Tartuffe deceives Orgon by hiding his true character in order to gain financially. Orgon was blinded by Tartuffe character and even planned to force his daughter to marry Tartuffe and even he wanted to disinherit his own son in order to make Tartuffe heir his fortunes. Many people are unable to distinguish false appearances from the true character of a person.
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Tartuffe betrays his friend Orgon by trying to seduce Orgon’s wife. When ordered to live Tartuffe wanted to revenge by trying to take hold of Orgon’s property and to have him arrested. Tartuffe takes advantage of Orgon’s devotion and generosity for the purpose of both material and social gain. We also see Tartuffe influencing Orgon to betray his own family. He breaks the engagement to both Marine and Valere to which he had previously consented. Orgon believed that Tartuffe was a virtuous person. In reality, Tartuffe was a sort of professional pretender who has done a lot of crimes under various phony identities. In this text, we see how people pretend to be affirmed on religions but, their actions do not match with that of a real Christian.
On the other hand, in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, two forms of Christianity are represented and they function differently in the text. Douglass considers himself a true Christian because he was opposed to slavery. He represents a real version of religion. The false Christianity is practiced by whites especially Mr. Covey. Throughout his discussion about religion, the reader gets to understand that slavery and true Christianity are opposing forces and cannot co-exist.
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The overseers of the slaves, though being Christians, were disliked by the slaves because of their deeds. For instance, when Mr. Severe the Colonel Lloyd’s plantation overseer dies, the slaves consider his death as a blessing from God. There are many instances where religious hypocrisy exhibits its self. For example, at St. Michael’s a school set up by a young white man for the slaves was closed by religious folks. Master Thomas was often cruel to a crippled girl called Henry. This raises questions if the master is a real Christian.
Many remarks about religious hypocrisy can be arrived at from the text. Douglass makes a clear distinction between the Christianity practiced by the slaveholders and the real Christianity. The former form of religion is a distorted version of the latter. The real Christianity is supposed to be pure, sacred and loving. Those who are not religious are shown to be much better than the owners of the slaves who claimed to be Christians. In this text, slaves are aware that their masters are not real Christians but, in the previous one, many are not aware of Tartuffe deception.
The major similarity between the two is that both authors brought out a clear picture on the extent of hypocrisy in religions. This got them into trouble since they were thought of attacking Christians instead of religious imposters.