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Custom Tartuffe and Monkey, or Journey to the West Essay

The structure of a text is usually correlated with an author’s message, which is implemented through a number of literary elements including plot, composition, and characters’ interaction. Tartuffe by Moliere and Monkey, or Journey to the West by Wu Ch'Eng-En are works, which were written in approximately the same time, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and despite belonging to different cultures and genres share some similar peculiarities of a plot and composition. Thus, in both texts the ending is unpredictable until the end of the story when the author uses “dues ex machina” technique that gives a new vision to the previous events.

Speaking about the plot of the considered works, it should be noted that they are both based on the activities of two tricksters, who either cunningly deceive (Tartuffe) or actively struggle their way to power and control. The two works demonstrate that throughout the whole story none of the people can find a solution to deal with them, so there is no hint of a possible way out of the situation. However, just at the end of each work a miraculous helper reveals who is stronger and wiser than an impostor and who is higher in the universal hierarchy. Because of this unexpected involvement the situation transforms in a way that contains a certain moral message from an author. Most generally, it suggests that the world is not chaotic but has a ruler (God personified by King in Tartuffe and Buddha in Monkey). This also means that the evil is not almighty and that a higher justice exists that punishes the evil and restores harmony in the Universe.

Speaking about Tartuffe, it is remarkable that there is a double play between the internal lies and the external piety. This correlation points to society’s excess focus on the external, in other words on people’s illusion of being and seeming. This is why using such ending the author’s aim  is not only to unveil the nature of Tartuffe to Orgon but also to assist him in punishing the impostor. There is a suggestion throughout the whole play that the good can be passive while the evil can be active and inventive, and this is the main issue about the interaction of Tartuffe and Orgon. Orgon is naïve, while Tartuffe is cunning, and this explains why the evil wins in many cases. It might sound as a deadlock unless the author introduced a king, who was an active character who had the power and at the same time could forgive and punish. This is in many ways a “deus ex machina” technique, which means that an authoritative and powerful figure appears unexpectedly for all and establishes justice or a new course of events. The vision of justice that Tartuffe offers consists in the idea that mistakes can be forgiven when they are not intentional, like it is the case with Orgon. When a person is deluded, this means that he is weak and unable to see the truth, or just not wise enough. By such behavior he can cause damage to other people but it is motivation that matters. If a person intended to be good but committed evil because of ignorance, this can be forgiven. However, a person who commits the evil consciously like Tartuffe does, should be punished, this is why he is arrested by the King.

In the same way, justice is established in Monkey through the involvement of Buddha, yet the text’s vision of justice is different. The point is that it belongs to the Oriental culture, which suggests a specific model of the world, which has little in common with a traditional Western outlook. One of the core differences consists in the idea that there is no absolute good, as well as there is no absolute evil. This actually reflects “yin-yang” concept, which suggests that darkness has a spot of light, while light has a spot of darkness, and they are able to transform into one another. Thus, Monkey King is a trickster for sure but the text does not say that he is totally villainous; he just has a special role in the Universe. He has superpowers that are impossible for humans to have, and he uses them against the rulers of this world. In fact, he believes that he is worth to be in control and he does everything to become a ruler. Yet, at the end of the text Buddha interferes who believes that there can be a better use for Monkey. Instead of punishing him for his deeds, like it would be natural for western culture to expect, he does a reverse thing taking him as a disciple. By doing this he demonstrates that each person has a potential, which is neither good nor evil, but everything depends on how it is used.  Buddha reinforces positive qualities in Monkey such as wit and courage and helps him learn how to use them wisely and for the sake of good.

Thus, the two texts use the same technique of “dues ex machina”, which involves participation of powerful figures who restore the balance. However, because the two works belong to different cultures, the vision of justice is totally different. While in Tartuffe the King punishes the intentional evil and forgives the non-intentional one, Monkey demonstrates that the good and the evil are just points of view and are not absolute. Buddha sees the potential of Monkey and leads him through the process of transformation despite his bad deeds in the past.

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