Moliere Monologues

Tartuffe (Dorine)

Dorine says

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.

Tartuffe (Dorine)

Dorine says

Her case is nothing, though, beside her son’s!
To see him, you would say he’s ten times worse!
His conduct in our late unpleasantness [1]
Had won him much esteem, and proved his courage
In service of his king; but now he’s like
A man besotted, since he’s been so taken
With this Tartuffe. He calls him brother, loves him
A hundred times as much as mother, son,
Daughter, and wife. He tells him all his secrets
And lets him guide his acts, and rule his conscience.
He fondles and embraces him; a sweetheart
Could not, I think, be loved more tenderly;
At table he must have the seat of honour,
While with delight our master sees him eat
As much as six men could; we must give up
The choicest tidbits to him; if he belches,
(’tis a servant speaking)
Master exclaims: “God bless you!” -Oh, he dotes
Upon him! he’s his universe, his hero;
He’s lost in constant admiration, quotes him
On all occasions, takes his trifling acts
For wonders, and his words for oracles.
The fellow knows his dupe, and makes the most on’t,
He fools him with a hundred masks of virtue,
Gets money from him all the time canting,
And takes upon himself to carp at us.
Even his silly coxcomb of a lackey
Makes it his business to instruct us too;
He comes with rolling eyes to preach at us,
And throws away our ribbons, rouge, and patches.
The wretch, the other day, tore up a kerchief
That he had found, pressed in the Golden Legend,
Calling it a horrid crime for us to mingle
The devil’s finery with holy things.

Tartuffe (Elmire)

Elmire says

If that refusal has offended you,
How little do you know a woman’s heart!
How ill you guess what it would have you know,
When it presents so feeble a defence!
Always, at first, our modesty resists
The tender feelings you inspire us with.
Whatever cause we find to justify
The love that masters us, we still must feel
Some little shame in owning it; and strive
To make as though we would not, when we would.
But from the very way we go about it
We let a lover know our heart surrenders,
The while our lips, for honour’s sake, oppose
Our heart’s desire, and in refusing promise.
I’m telling you my secret all too freely
And with too little heed to modesty.
But -now that I’ve made bold to speak -pray tell me.
Should I have tried to keep Damis from speaking,
Should I have heard the offer of your heart
So quietly, and suffered all your pleading,
And taken it just as I did -remember –
If such a declaration had not pleased me,
And, when I tried my utmost to persuade you
Not to accept the marriage that was talked of,
What should my earnestness have hinted to you
If not the interest that you’ve inspired,
And my chagrin, should such a match compel me
To share a heart I want all to myself?

Tartuffe (Elmire)

Elmire says

But mind, I’m going to meddle with strange matters;
Prepare yourself to be in no wise shocked.
Whatever I may say must pass, because
‘Tis only to convince you, as I promised.
wheedling speeches, since I’m forced to do it,
I’ll make this hypocrite put off his mask,
Flatter the longings of his shameless passion,
And give free play to all his impudence.
But, since ’tis for your sake, to prove to you
His guilt, that I shall feign to share his love,
I can leave off as soon as you’re convinced,
And things shall go no farther than you choose.
So, when you think they’ve gone quite far enough,
It is for you to stop his mad pursuit,
To spare your wife, and not expose me farther
Than you shall need, yourself, to undeceive you.
It is your own affair, and you must end it
When … Here he comes. Keep still, don’t show yourself.

Tartuffe (Madame Pernelle)

Madame Pernelle says

There! That’s the kind of rigmarole to please you,
Daughter-in-law. One never has a chance
To get a word in edgewise, at your house,
Because this lady holds the floor all day;
But none the less, I mean to have my say, too.
I tell you that my son did nothing wiser
In all his life, than take this godly man
Into his household; heaven sent him here,
In your great need, to make you all repent;
For your salvation, you must hearken to him;
He censures nothing but deserves his censure.
These visits, these assemblies, and these balls,
Are all inventions of the evil spirit.
You never hear a word of godliness
At them -but idle cackle, nonsense, flimflam.
Our neighbour often comes in for a share,
The talk flies fast, and scandal fills the air;
It makes a sober person’s head go round,
At these assemblies, just to hear the sound
Of so much gab, with not a word to say;
And as a learned man remarked one day
Most aptly, ’tis the Tower of Babylon,
Where all, beyond all limit, babble on.
And just to tell you how this point came in …

Tartuffe (Madame Pernelle)

Madame Pernelle says

There! That’s the kind of rigmarole to please you,
Daughter-in-law. One never has a chance
To get a word in edgewise, at your house,
Because this lady holds the floor all day;
But none the less, I mean to have my say, too.
I tell you that my son did nothing wiser
In all his life, than take this godly man
Into his household; heaven sent him here,
In your great need, to make you all repent;
For your salvation, you must hearken to him;
He censures nothing but deserves his censure.
These visits, these assemblies, and these balls,
Are all inventions of the evil spirit.
You never hear a word of godliness
At them -but idle cackle, nonsense, flimflam.
Our neighbour often comes in for a share,
The talk flies fast, and scandal fills the air;
It makes a sober person’s head go round,
At these assemblies, just to hear the sound
Of so much gab, with not a word to say;
And as a learned man remarked one day
Most aptly, ’tis the Tower of Babylon,
Where all, beyond all limit, babble on.
And just to tell you how this point came in …

Tartuffe (Mariane)

Mariane says

Father, I beg you, in the name of Heaven
That knows my grief, and whate’er can move you,
Relax a little your paternal rights,
And free my love from this obedience!
Oh, do not make me, your harsh command,
Complain to Heaven you ever were my father;
Do not make wretched this poor life you gave me.
If, crossing that fond hope which I had formed,
You’ll not permit me to belong to one
Whom I have dared to love, at least, I beg you
Upon my knees, oh, save me from the torment
Of being possessed one whom I abhor!
And do not drive me to some desperate act
exercising all your rights upon me.

Tartuffe (Mariane)

Mariane says

Father, I beg you, in the name of Heaven
That knows my grief, and whate’er can move you,
Relax a little your paternal rights,
And free my love from this obedience!
Oh, do not make me, your harsh command,
Complain to Heaven you ever were my father;
Do not make wretched this poor life you gave me.
If, crossing that fond hope which I had formed,
You’ll not permit me to belong to one
Whom I have dared to love, at least, I beg you
Upon my knees, oh, save me from the torment
Of being possessed one whom I abhor!
And do not drive me to some desperate act
exercising all your rights upon me.

Tartuffe (Orgon)

Orgon says

Ah! If you’d seen him, as I saw him first,
You would have loved him just as much as I.
He came to church each day, with contrite mien,
Kneeled, on both knees, right opposite my place,
And drew the eyes of all the congregation,
To watch the fervour of his prayers to heaven;
With deep-drawn sighs and great ejaculations,
He humbly kissed the earth at every moment;
And when I left the church, he ran before me
To give me holy water at the door.
I learned his poverty, and who he was,
questioning his servant, who is like him,
And gave him gifts; but in his modesty
He always wanted to return a part.
“It is too much,” he’d say, “too much half;
I am not worthy of your pity.” Then,
When I refused to take it back, he’d go,
Before my eyes, and give it to the poor.
At length heaven bade me take him to my home,
And since that day, all seems to prosper here.
He censures everything, and for my sake
He even takes great interest in my wife;
He lets me know who ogles her, and seems
Six times as jealous as I am myself.
You’d not believe how far his zeal can go:
He calls himself a sinner just for trifles;
The merest nothing is enough to shock him;
So much so, that the other day I heard him
Accuse himself for having, while at prayer,
In too much anger caught and killed a flea.

Tartuffe (Cleante)

Cleante says

I’m not the sole expounder of the doctrine,
And wisdom shall not die with me, good brother.
But this I know, though it be all my knowledge,
That there’s a difference ‘twixt false and true.
And as I find no kind of hero more
To be admired than men of true religion,
Nothing more noble or more beautiful
Than is the holy zeal of true devoutness;
Just so I think there’s naught more odious
Than whited sepulchres of outward unction,
Those barefaced charlatans, those hireling zealots,
Whose sacrilegious, treacherous pretence
Deceives at will, and with impunity
Makes mockery of all that men hold sacred;
Men who, enslaved to selfish interests,
Make trade and merchandise of godliness,
And try to purchase influence and office
With false eye-rollings and affected raptures;
Those men, I say, who with uncommon zeal
Seek their own fortunes on the road to heaven;
Who, skilled in prayer, have always much to ask,
And live at court to preach retirement;
Who reconcile religion with their vices,
Are quick to anger, vengeful, faithless, tricky,
And, to destroy a man, will have the boldness
To call their private grudge the cause of heaven;
All the more dangerous, since in their anger
They use against us weapons men revere,
And since they make the world applaud their passion,
And seek to stab us with a sacred sword.
There are too many of this canting kind.
Still, the sincere are easy to distinguish;
And many splendid patterns may be found,
In our own time, before our very eyes
Look at Ariston, Periandre, Oronte,
Alcidamas, Clitandre, and Polydore;
No one denies their claim to true religion;
Yet they’re no braggadocios of virtue,
They do not make insufferable display,
And their religion’s human, tractable;
They are not always judging all our actions,
They’d think such judgment savoured of presumption;
And, leaving pride of words to other men,
‘Tis their deeds alone they censure ours.
Evil appearances find little credit
With them; they even incline to think the best
Of others. No caballers, no intriguers,
They mind the business of their own right living.
They don’t attack a sinner tooth and nail,
For sin’s the only object of their hatred;
Nor are they over-zealous to attempt
Far more in heaven’s behalf than heaven would have ’em.
That is my kind of man, that is true living,
That is the pattern we should set ourselves.
Your fellow was not fashioned on this model;
You’re quite sincere in boasting of his zeal;
But you’re deceived, I think, false pretences.