What is Dorine's analysis of the source of rumors about the family in Scene 1 of Act I in Tartuffe?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In response to Madame Pernelle's worries about rumors and criticism directed at Orgon's family, Dorine names two acquaintances, "Daphne and her little husband," but more importantly identifies the general source of such gossip:

Those who have greatest cause for guilt and shame

Are quickest to besmirch a neighbor's name.

The motivation for this gossiping about another, according to Dorine, is self-defensive:

By talking up their neighbor's indiscretions

They seek to camouflage their own transgressions . . . .

Daphne continues, adding more to her analysis of those who gossip. Like Orante (a woman Madame Pernelle holds up as a virtuous woman), some gossip, Daphne says, out of jealousy. These are the women who were once beautiful and admired, who "flounced and flirted and enjoyed it all." When their apeal fades, Daphne says, "old coquettes" become self-righteous critics:

Distressed when all their lovers fall away,

They see no recourse but to play the prude,

And so confer a style on solitude.

These woman, Daphne says, pretend to be "pure, austere, and zealous," but in fact are "merely jealous":

[They] cannot bear to see another know

The pleasures time has forced them to forgo.

Throughout the play, Dorine emerges as an excellent judge of character and one who understands basic human nature very well.