The School for Scandal: (Annotated Edition)
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In a part of English high society where gossip runs rampant, a tangle of love has formed. Lady Sneerwell is in love with a young, rebellious man named Charles Surface. However, Charles is in love with Maria, as is his brother Joseph. Maria is in love with Charles, but Lady Sneerwell and Joseph plot to ruin this relationship through rumors of unfaithfulness on Charles' part. At the same time, an older man named Sir Peter Teazle has taken a young wife from the country, now called Lady Teazle; after only a few months of marriage they now bicker constantly about money, driving Lady Teazle to contemplate an affair with Joseph Surface. The plot thickens when Sir Oliver Surface, the rich uncle of Joseph and Charles, returns to town from abroad. He schemes to test the rumors he has heard of Joseph being the well-bred and deserving brother and Charles having fallen into ruin; to do so, he goes to each of them in disguise. He disguises himself as a money lender named Mr. Premium to investigate Charles's spending habits, and is infuriated when he sees Charles living lavishly while driving the family far into debt. Charles proposes to sell him all he has left, the collection of family portraits, angering his uncle even more; however he forgives him when Charles refuses to sell the painting of his uncle.