Dimitar Berbatov struck twice as Spurs produced a clinical display to beat Charlton and move into eighth spot.
Spurs striker Berbatov celebrates his second with Huddlestone
The visitors had actually started well before Berbatov poked home and Teemu Tainio struck from range as Spurs got two in two minutes on the half hour.
Charlton came back before half time when Michael Dawson slid into his own net, but Spurs were rampant thereafter.
Steed Malbranque volleyed his first for the club and Defoe drilled in, before Berbatov's cool finish wrapped it up.
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While the victory extended Tottenham's recent run to six straight home league wins, it left Charlton languishing in 19th spot and just a point off the bottom of the Premiership.
But the result seemed most unlikely in an opening half hour that was dominated by the visitors.
With Souleymane Diawara shackling Defoe closely and Berbatov typically flitting in and out of the game early on, the visitors were able to dominate possession.
They deserved to lead in the opening stages, Amady Faye and Reid both going close from range, before Lloyd Sam's goal-bound snap-shot was deflected wide by Ledley King's tackle.
But all their efforts came undone thanks to a splendid Tottenham goal on the half hour.
The impressive Tom Huddlestone collected in midfield and slid to Aaron Lennon, whose reverse pass found Berbatov in the box and the Bulgarian coolly poked into the corner for his eighth of the season.
Tainio celebrates his first goal for Tottenham in almost a year
To rub salt into Charlton's wounds, Tainio doubled that lead moments later, firing low into the net via the slightest of deflections to give Spurs a two-goal cushion.
Charlton have scored more than one goal in a league game just twice this season, but to their credit they refused to buckle.
And they were handed a lifeline before half time when Reid came back to haunt his previous employers, dancing around Huddlestone on the left and firing in a fine cross that Dawson could only poke past Robinson.
Buoyed by their earlier successes, Charlton boss Les Reed put another forward in Dennis Rommedahl on eight minutes into the second half, but just minutes later Malbranque restored Spurs' two-goal cushion.
The French midfielder chested down Berbatov's knock-down and volleyed low into the corner from 18 yards.
Suddenly, Charlton's early-game belief had evaporated and a fourth was not long in coming.
Lennon closed Bryan Hughes down 50 yards out and the ricochet fell to Defoe, who took a touch before rifling into the top corner from 20 yards.
There was still 27 minutes remaining at that point and Charlton were left struggling to keep the score down - something they failed to do as Berbatov strode onto Paul Robinson's long throw and waltzed into the box before firing through Scott Carson's legs.
There was still time for Huddlestone to come close to capping another fine display when he drilled inches over in the last few minutes but, despite their second-half collapse, even a five-goal margin would have been harsh on the visitors.
And, if only to prove it was not Charlton's day, Robinson produced two superb saves in the dying minutes, firstly when Darren Bent was clear on goal and then from Rommedahl's ambitious cross-shot, before Faye somehow screwed wide of an open goal in stoppage time.
Tottenham manager Martin Jol:
"We didn't create much more than we normally do, but in this match we put them away and that is pleasing.
"I'm very happy with Berbatov and Defoe, they are scoring goals which is important, but it was also good for Malbranque and Tainio to get on the scoresheet.
"Hopefully, this will set us up for what is always a difficult period. We want to be in the top five or six and to do that we must start improving away from home. It will come because everyone can see we are a fine side."
Charlton boss Les Reed:
"We're a real Jekyll and Hyde side at the moment. Everything we did right in the midweek win over Blackburn went wrong today - our work-rate, composure and cohesion.
"We passed well at times and pressed well at times, but there were two spells - one in the first half and one in the second - when Tottenham tore us apart.
"But we've had a very good, strong, heart-to-heart in the dressing room - a real constructive conversation - and we know exactly where we have to go from here."
Tottenham: Robinson, Chimbonda (Stalteri 82), Dawson, King, Lee, Lennon, Huddlestone, Tainio, Malbranque (Murphy 70), Berbatov (Mido 76), Defoe.
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Ghaly.
Booked: Dawson, Malbranque.
Goals: Berbatov 31, Tainio 33, Malbranque 55, Defoe 63, Berbatov 66.
Charlton: Carson, Young, Diawara, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson, Sam, Kishishev (Rommedahl 53), Faye, Hughes, Reid (Hasselbaink 67), Darren Bent.
Subs Not Used: Myhre, Holland, Fortune.
Booked: Hughes, Reid, Sam, Diawara.
Goals: Dawson 43 og.
Ref: M Dean (Wirral).