Early Signs Of Feminism In Molière’s Tartuffe

1422 words - 6 pages

Early signs of feminism in Molière’s Tartuffe
The female characters in Molière’s Tartuffe display feminist behaviors years before the feminist movement emerged historically. Many of their actions, words and behaviors are completely out of character for women of their time. Moliere makes a strong statement with this play by presenting female characters that go against convention. The gender inequality when the Enlightenment began was extreme. The women in this play try to fight against this inequality and in the end it is the patriarch of the family that is fooled by Tartuffe yet most of the female characters remain un-fooled throughout the play. Two of the female characters in this play, ...view middle of the document...

Elmire tells Tartuffe of the feelings she claims to have for him. When Tartuffe attempts hears this he is very happy and assumes they will sleep together. Elmire responds with “You want to spend this passion instantly? I’ve been opening my heart consistently, But for you it’s not enough this sharing.” This line shows Elmire’s personality best. This woman has just confessed her love to Tartuffe yet she is not willing to touch him. She then scolds him for thinking that he could touch her. This is a woman that understands how men view her at the time. She understands that her female sexuality is just about the only thing she has that the men do not. Elmire uses her body as well as her beauty to earn power in the household. This is something that the other women did not do.
Elmire displays her power as a woman with her sexuality. This is very similar to what many women are doing today. A great example is that of Miley Cyrus. One might consider her a modern day feminist. She is a performer who is famous for her outrageous, overly sexual dance moves. She often wears controversial outfits as well. She is using her sexuality to her advantage as well. The way she dresses and dances have made her famous. As a result, she is not very wealthy and very famous. This woman expresses herself in any way that she pleases. She does not let anyone tell her what she can or cannot do. In fact, she monopolizes on the fact that people will draw attention to her when she acts in an overly sexual way. Elmire has done what Miley Cyrus is doing. Yet she has done this way before feminism was around. This play was written before woman had any sort of power.
The maid Dorine displays the strongest early signs of feminism. She stands up for herself and always has a strong opinion. Dorine knows that she is not equal to the men in the house yet this does not stop her from speaking out. Dorine is neither a typical maid nor a typical woman of her time in any way. She always has an opinion and does not hesitate to make it known. She does not filter the words that come out of her mouth. This almost gets her into trouble when Orgon attempts to hit her in act 2.2. Dorine does not want Tartuffe and Mariane to wed. In act 2.2 Orgon, Dorine and Mariane speak of Tartuffe. Dorine says to Orgon “I see the awful truth across your brow. How can a man who looks as wise as you Be such a fool to want-“Dorine actually calls the man that she working for a fool! This is something that would be out of the question even in today’s times. Dorine does not respect this man in any way and makes it clear. She is a woman that does not bow down to any man. These are actions that would have been absurd during the 17th century. Dorines character is one that is written way ahead of her time.
Dorine’s character and personality in this play resembles that of many modern day feminists. The one that comes...

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