Dorine, who has clearly been eavesdropping, interrupts an angered Orgon and begins to mock him, saying that she has heard evil gossip that Mariane is to be betrothed to Tartuffe. She states that her master would never do such a thing.
Intelligent and brave yet again, Dorine violates the family hierarchy in order to protect Mariane from a marriage to Tartuffe.
As Orgon attempts again and again to speak to Mariane, Dorine interrupts him at every turn. When she criticizes Tartuffe’s hypocrisy and low social status, Orgon defends him, asserting that Tartuffe lost all his money because he cared more about Heaven than he did about Earth.
The incisive Dorine takes issue not with Tartuffe’s lack of funds, but with his ostentatious piety. She, like Cléante, understands that Tartuffe has exaggerated his holiness in order to manipulate Orgon.
Dorine goes so far as to suggest that, should Mariane be forced to marry Tartuffe, she will not be faithful to him, asserting that Orgon will be culpable for all of Mariane’s sins, since he will be responsible for the match.
Clever and brash, Dorine uses the holy language of “culpability” and “sin” against Tartuffe, demonstrating how easily the vocabulary of religion can be manipulated. Also note how Dorine references a reality beneath appearances, in which a wife married to an unworthy man won’t be faithful to him.
Orgon claims that he does not want to give Mariane to Valère because her betrothed does not go to church enough and gambles too much. Dorine asks if Valère should go to church whenever Orgon does, in order to make sure that he is seen there.
Dorine’s subtle point here is that Orgon has been tricked by Tartuffe: she is saying that Tartuffe makes it look like he goes to church all the time by making sure that he is at church whenever Orgon is (but that otherwise Tartuffe doesn’t go to church at all). In other words: Tartuffe makes it seem to Orgon like he goes to church all the time without actually going all the time.
As Orgon once again tries to persuade his daughter of the benefits of marriage to Tartuffe, Dorine interjects again and again, saying that she does so only because of her love for Mariane and Orgon. The master of the house grows increasingly angry, eventually threatening Dorine. When the maid continues to mock him, Orgon attempts to hit her, but misses. Incensed, he leaves for a walk, hoping to calm himself, and blaming Dorine for his “sinful” annoyance at her.
Once again, Orgon abuses those around him because of his loyalty to Tartuffe, which is ironic as his devotion to a supposedly religious man here drives him to try to hit his servant. He also displays his hotheadedness, which will be even more destructive later when his temper drives his fatherly decisions. His blaming of Dorine for his own behavior is typical for an overly righteous hypocrite, who cannot see his own flaws and therefore can’t even see his own hypocrisy.