SAMPLE #1: Act I, Scene 5
Orgon, Cleante


CLEANTE

Good God, my dear Orgon!  I think you’re crazy!
Or are you trying to make a fool of me?
In view of this nonsense, why do you insist…

ORGON
You’re talking, brother, like an atheist.
You know that you lean that way in your heart.
And just like I told you right from the start,
Trouble’s coming unless you change your mind.

CLEANTE
I’ve heard all the arguments of that kind.
If you’re not blind, you’re an infidel.
If you see clearly, you’re going to hell.
What?  Would you make no distinction for me
Between hypocrisy and piety?
Do you want to treat them all the same –
Honor the flicker just like the true flame,
Equating artifice with sincerity,
Confusing appearance with verity,
Shadow for substance; if that’s not enough
Take counterfeit money for the real stuff?
Man, for the most part, is a strange creature
Who can’t find the happy medium of nature.
The thought of moderation makes him laugh…

ORGON
Cleante, it seems you’re too clever by half.
You’re learned, brilliant, from all the great schools,
Compared to you, all other men are fools.

CLEANTE
I don’t possess the wisdom of the ages
And I am not a learned sage of sages.
But there is one thing I know very well –
The difference between true and false to tell.
Nothing’s more honorable in society
Than true devotion and zealous piety.
But I know of nothing more fallacious
Than hypocrites whose faith is baseless.
These sanctimonious charlatans with their
Histrionic and heretical glare
Betray real faith and make a laughing stock
Of the pious believers in the flock.

They pray not for grace, but money is fine;
Dressed like monks, they run back to Court to dine.
When they’ve an enemy they wish to libel
They use religion and quote the Bible.
These holier-than-thou types are all about,
But it’s easy to spot the truly devout.
They don’t sing their own praises; just the same
Their virtue is reasonable and humane.
They don’t go around judging everyone;
They know that’s arrogant and shouldn’t be done.
 Of preaching and sermons they have no needs;
They show they are Christians by their good deeds.
They don’t pursue a sinner or reprobate;
It’s the sin, not the sinner that they hate.
These are role models, people I admire;
Toward their example we should aspire.
And though you think that he’s faithful and real,

Your man’s not really the model of zeal.
You’ve been dazzled and tricked by him, I stress.

ORGON
Brother-in-law, are you quite finished?

 CLEANTE
                                                             Yes.

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SAMPLE #2:  Act II, Scene 3
Dorine, Mariane

MARIANE
Goodness, Dorine!  That’s so harsh!  You don’t feel
Any pity for my despair that’s so real.

DORINE
I’ve no sympathy when you get this dizzy.
Tartuffe’s not giving up so easily, is he?

MARIANE
What can I do?  You know how shy I get.

DORINE
True love needs a heart strong and passionate.


MARIANE
My love for Valere’s the same I’ve always had,
But shouldn’t he be the one to deal with Dad?

DORINE
What?  If your father is so crazed and aloof
And so infatuated with his Tartuffe
That all your wedding plans are up in the air,
How’s that possibly the fault of Valere?

MARIANE
If I defy my father and act that mean,
Won’t my deep love for Valere be seen?
Shall I give up, for his charm and beauty,
My modesty, which is a woman’s duty?
Shall I declare my love to the world and flaunt…

DORINE
No, don’t do anything.  I see you want
To be Madame Tartuffe.  It would be wrong
For me to divert a desire so strong.
What right do I have to oppose your wish?
Just look at Tartuffe – he is quite a dish.
With that pink complexion, those big red ears,
Think what pleasure you’ll have over the years.

MARIANE
Good lord!

DORINE
          Your soul will know eternal bliss
Wedded to such an ideal man as this.

MARIANE
You’ve got to stop talking like that, Dorine.
Try to be helpful.  Stop being so mean.
That’s enough.  I give in.  Tell me what to do.


DORINE
No.  A daughter must to her father be true,
Even if he gives her to a chimpanzee.
You can’t complain.  Oh, the things I can see
In the life that you’ll live…

MARIANE
                              You’re killing me.
I need your help and not this mockery.

DORINE
Your servant, mam’selle.

MARIANE
                         Oh, please, Dorine dear.


DORINE
This marriage must go through as planned, I fear.

MARIANE
Dorine…

DORINE
            No.

MARIANE
                 What if I say that I will…


DORINE
No.  Tartuffe’s your man, and you shall have your fill.

MARIANE
You know that in you I’ve always confided…

DORINE
No.  You’re going to be tartuffefided.

 ___________________________________


SAMPLE #3: Act III, Scene 3
Tartuffe, Elmire


TARTUFFE
He mentioned it, but I tell you in anguish,
That’s not the happiness for which I languish.
It’s elsewhere, Madame where I see the charms
That I long to hold tightly in my arms.

ELMIRE
You’d rather leave temporal things alone.

TARTUFFE
My breast does not contain a heart of stone.

ELMIRE
I think you love only the celestial
And not things of earth – low, base, and bestial.

TARTUFFE
To love eternal beauties far above
Does not mean I’m immune to earthly love.

Tartuffe by Moliere: a new rhymed verse translation


This is a modern, American English translation of the French classic. Like the original, it is entirely in rhymed couplets, but you will find that this version is fresh and accessible for modern audiences while keeping the spirit of the original.

Tartuffe, or the Imposter

by Jean Baptiste Poquelin de Moliere

Translated and adapted from the French by Harold Dixon

©2007

FULLY PROTECTED
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

info@tartuffe.biz

 
Characters in the play

Madame Pernelle, Orgon’s mother

Orgon, husband of Elmire

Elmire, wife of Orgon

Damis, son of Orgon

Mariane, daughter of Orgon and lover of Valere

Valere, lover of Mariane

Cleante, Elmire’s brother, brother-in-law of Orgon

Tartuffe, a religious hypocrite (faux devot)

Dorine, lady’s maid to Mariane

M. Loyal, a bailiff

Police Officer

Flipote, servant to Mme. Pernelle

Laurent, servant to Tartuffe

The action takes place in Paris, in Orgon’s household, 1669

Sample Scenes

​for perusal only