Act II

Scene II

ORGON, MARIANE, DORINE (coming in quietly and standing behind Orgon, so that he does not see her)

Well spoken. A good girl. Say then, my daughter,
That all his person shines with noble merit,
That he has won your heart, and you would like
To have him, by my choice, become your husband.


What say you?

Please, what did you say?


Surely I mistook you, sir?

How now?

Who is it, father, you would have me say
Has won my heart, and I would like to have
Become my husband, by your choice?


But, father, I protest it isn’t true!
Why should you make me tell this dreadful lie?

Because I mean to have it be the truth.
Let this suffice for you: I’ve settled it.

What, father, you would . . . ?

Yes, child, I’m resolved
To graft Tartuffe into my family.
So he must be your husband. That I’ve settled.
And since your duty . .

(Seeing Dorine)
What are you doing there?
Your curiosity is keen, my girl,
To make you come eavesdropping on us so.

Upon my word, I don’t know how the rumour
Got started—if ’twas guess-work or mere chance
But I had heard already of this match,
And treated it as utter stuff and nonsense.

What! Is the thing incredible?

So much so
I don’t believe it even from yourself, sir.

I know a way to make you credit it.

No, no, you’re telling us a fairly tale!

I’m telling you just what will happen shortly.


Daughter, what I say is in good earnest.

There, there, don’t take your father seriously;
He’s fooling.

But I tell you . . .

No. No use.
They won’t believe you.

If I let my anger . . .

Well, then, we do believe you; and the worse
For you it is. What! Can a grown-up man
With that expanse of beard across his face
Be mad enough to want . . .?

You hark me:
You’ve taken on yourself here in this house
A sort of free familiarity
That I don’t like, I tell you frankly, girl.

There, there, let’s not get angry, sir, I beg you.
But are you making game of everybody?
Your daughter’s not cut out for bigot’s meat;
And he has more important things to think of.
Besides, what can you gain by such a match?
How can a man of wealth, like you, go choose
A wretched vagabond for son-in-law?

You hold your tongue. And know, the less he has,
The better cause have we to honour him.
His poverty is honest poverty;
It should exalt him more than worldly grandeur,
For he has let himself be robbed of all,
Through careless disregard of temporal things
And fixed attachment to the things eternal.
My help may set him on his feet again,
Win back his property—a fair estate
He has at home, so I’m informed—and prove him
For what he is, a true-born gentleman.

Yes, so he says himself. Such vanity
But ill accords with pious living, sir.
The man who cares for holiness alone
Should not so loudly boast his name and birth;
The humble ways of genuine devoutness
Brook not so much display of earthly pride.
Why should he be so vain? . . . But I offend you:
Let’s leave his rank, then,—take the man himself:
Can you without compunction give a man
Like him possession of a girl like her?
Think what a scandal’s sure to come of it!
Virtue is at the mercy of the fates,
When a girl’s married to a man she hates;
The best intent to live an honest woman
Depends upon the husband’s being human,
And men whose brows are pointed at afar
May thank themselves their wives are what they are.
For to be true is more than woman can,
With husbands built upon a certain plan;
And he who weds his child against her will
Owes heaven account for it, if she do ill.
Think then what perils wait on your design.

ORGON (to Mariane)
So! I must learn what’s what from her, you see!

You might do worse than follow my advice.

Daughter, we can’t waste time upon this nonsense;
I know what’s good for you, and I’m your father.
True, I had promised you to young Valere;
But, first, they tell me he’s inclined to gamble,
And then, I fear his faith is not quite sound.
I haven’t noticed that he’s regular
At church.

You’d have him run there just when you do.
Like those who go on purpose to be seen?

I don’t ask your opinion on the matter.
In short, the other is in Heaven’s best graces,
And that is riches quite beyond compare.
This match will bring you every joy you long for;
‘Twill be all steeped in sweetness and delight.
You’ll live together, in your faithful loves,
Like two sweet children, like two turtle-doves;
You’ll never fail to quarrel, scold, or tease,
And you may do with him whate’er you please.

With him? Do naught but give him horns, I’ll warrant.

Out on thee, wench!

I tell you he’s cut out for’t;
However great your daughter’s virtue, sir,
His destiny is sure to prove the stronger.

Have done with interrupting. Hold your tongue.
Don’t poke your nose in other people’s business.

DORINE (She keeps interrupting him, just as he turns and starts to speak to his daughter).
If I make bold, sir, ’tis for your own good.

You’re too officious; pray you, hold your tongue.

‘Tis love of you . . .

I want none of your love.

Then I will love you in your own despite.

You will, eh?

Yes, your honour’s dear to me;
I can’t endure to see you made the butt
Of all men’s ridicule.

Won’t you be still?

‘Twould be a sin to let you make this match.

Won’t you be still, I say, you impudent viper!

What! you are pious, and you lose your temper?

I’m all wrought up, with your confounded nonsense;
Now, once for all, I tell you hold your tongue.

Then mum’s the word; I’ll take it out in thinking.

Think all you please; but not a syllable
To me about it, or . . . you understand!

(Turning to his daughter.)
As a wise father, I’ve considered all
With due deliberation.

I’ll go mad
If I can’t speak.
(She stops the instant he turns his head.)

Though he’s no lady’s man,
Tartuffe is well enough . . .

A pretty phiz!

So that, although you may not care at all
For his best qualities . . .

A handsome dowry!

(Orgon turns and stands in front of her, with arms folded, eyeing her.)
Were I in her place, any man should rue it
Who married me by force, that’s mighty certain;
I’d let him know, and that within a week,
A woman’s vengeance isn’t far to seek.

ORGON (to Dorine)
So—nothing that I say has any weight?

Eh? What’s wrong now? I didn’t speak to you.

What were you doing?

Talking to myself.

Oh! Very well. (Aside.) Her monstrous impudence
Must be chastised with one good slap in the face.

(He stands ready to strike her, and, each time he speaks to his daughter, he glances toward her; but she stands still and says not a word.)[1]

Daughter, you must approve of my design. . . .
Think of this husband . . . I have chosen for you. . .

(To Dorine)
Why don’t you talk to yourself?

Nothing to say.

One little word more.

Oh, no, thanks. Not now.

Sure, I’d have caught you.

Faith, I’m no such fool.

So, daughter, now obedience is the word;
You must accept my choice with reverence.

DORINE (running away)
You’d never catch me marrying such a creature.

ORGON (swinging his hand at her and missing her)
Daughter, you’ve such a pestilent hussy there
I can’t live with her longer, without sin.
I can’t discuss things in the state I’m in.
My mind’s so flustered by her insolent talk,
To calm myself, I must go take a walk.

  1. As given at the Comédie française, the action is as follows: While Orgon says, "You must approve of my design," Dorine is making signs to Mariane to resist his orders; Orgon turns around suddenly; but Dorine quickly changes her gesture and with the hand which she had lifted calmly arranges her hair and her cap. Orgon goes on, "Think of the husband . . ." and stops before the middle of his sentence to turn and catch the beginning of Dorine's gesture; but he is too quick this time, and Dorine stands looking at his furious countenance with a sweet and gentle expression. He turns and goes on, and the obstinate Dorine again lifts her hand behind his shoulder to urge Mariane to resistance: this time he catches her; but just as he swings his shoulder to give her the promised blow, she stops him by changing the intent of her gesture, and carefully picking from the top of his sleeve a bit of fluff which she holds carefully between her fingers, then blows into the air, and watches intently as it floats away. Orgon is paralysed by her innocence of expression, and compelled to hide his rage.—Regnier, Le Tartuffe des Comédiens.


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