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One of Moliere's most fully developed characters, Dorine is probably an audience's favorite. As the play turns upon the mutual confidence of the two figures who believe they have control of their lives, it is Dorine who shatters some of their illusions, and she goes about this shattering with clever satiric dexterity and physical comedy, greatly entertaining the audience.
Maid to Mariane, Dorine, nevertheless, has a very strong personality and much aplomb. Not intimidated by Orgon or anyone else, she quickly and fearlessly expresses herself in disagreement with her superiors. When Orgon tells Mariane that she must marry Tartuffe, Dorine immediately protests the arrangement because she knows Mariane loves Valere and because she is aware of Tartuffe's monetary desires.
Most of all, Dorine has some great lines of satiric humor. In Act II, Scene 3, for example, when Mariane vows to kill herself rather than marry Tartuffe, Dorine counters,
DORINE Very good! That's a relief I did not think of: you need only to die to get rid of this perplexity.
More a mother-figure than Elmire, Dorine devises a plan to keep Mariane and Valere together, and, thus, makes the sentimental viewer content. In Act III she imparts her maternal wisdom to Damis, as well, who hides as Tartuffe enters. When he sees Dorine, Tartuffe holds out a handkerchief, asking her to cover her bosom because he cannot bear to see it.
TARTUFFE Such objects hurt the soul, and usher in sinful thoughts.
Knowing what a hypocrite Tartuffe is, Dorine insults him,
DORINE You mightily melt then at a temptation, and the flesh makes great impression upon your senses? Truly, I can't tell what heat may inflame you; but, for my part, I am not so apt to hanker. Now I could see you stark naked from head to foot, and that whole hide of yours not tempt me at all.
In Act IV, Dorine is the voice of reason, appealing to Orgon to not allow the marriage of Tartuffe with Mariane. She is also very supportive, arguing with Orgon against the marriage. But, when he orders her to silence, Dorine stands behind Orgon, gesturing to Mariane to protest. Every time Orgon turns around, Dorine feigns another innocuous signal or freezes. The physical comedy is quite funny, and provides comic relief.
Later, in Act V, Scene V, Mme Pernelle finally realizes Tartuffe's treachery and hypocrisy, and delighting in her revenge, Dorine taunts Orgon satirically,
Oh, come, be fair. You mustn’t take offense
At this new proof of his benevolence.
He’s acting out of selfless love, I know.
Material things enslave the soul, and so
He kindly has arranged your liberation
From all that might endanger your salvation.
But, she is loyal; when the officer comes to turn them out, Dorine loyally defends the family.
In Tartuffe, Dorine is a strong character, quite humorous, and psychologically valid--very entertaining to audiences.
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