A local production of Tartuffe, the famous, 400-year-old comedy by French playwright Molière, switched us (wife Regina and me) into laughter mode for two hours recently, thanks to the actors’ expert parodies of the main characters, who include:
- Orgon, a good man whose love of family is overshadowed and strained by his adoration for his house-guest, Tartuffe… whom just about everyone else recognizes as a fraud.
- Tartuffe, a self-absorbed, lustful, deceitful fellow pretending to be a pious priest.
- Elmire, Orgon’s down-to-earth second wife who expertly deflects Tartuffe’s creepy advances.
- Damis, Orgon’s son (Elmire’s stepson) who tries to expose Tartuffe… only to be disinherited by his furious father.
- Dorine, the sexy French maid who knows all, sees all, and keeps the audience abreast.
On the way home our laughter subsided as we talked about the upcoming Presidential elections here in the States, whose main characters include:
- The Trump supporter, the good man (or woman) whose love of country is outdone and strained by his adoration for his candidate.
- Donald Trump, a self-absorbed, deceitful fellow pretending to be presidential material.
- Hillary Clinton, down-to-earth presidential candidate (and wife of a former president) who expertly deflects Trump’s empty accusations.
- The progressive media, who try to expose Trump… only to be assailed as dishonest.
- Objective news sources (wikinews, AlterNet, The Real News, Reuters, The Independent, PBS, BBC, CSPAN…), who give us the inside story.
In fairness, US politics has become so polarized that a long list of nice words and naughty words are used to describe both candidates, Hillary and Donald.
Still, I found the parallels between Tartuffe and Donald Trump interesting enough to write this short post.
To find a similar parallel for Hillary Clinton would require a different character in a different stage play… maybe MacBeth?
From widipedia: “… Analysts see in the character of Lady Macbeth the conflict between femininity and masculinity, as they are impressed in cultural norms. Lady Macbeth suppresses her instincts toward compassion, motherhood, and fragility — associated with femininity — in favor of ambition, ruthlessness, and the single-minded pursuit of power….”
It’s not a perfect parallel, given Hillary’s compassion for America’s less fortunate and the results of her motherhood, but she has developed the masculine skills of ambition and the pursuit of power (and some would add ruthlessness) in order to succeed in politics.
The parallel between Donald and Tartuffe seems a bit closer… and, thanks to Molière, a bit funnier.