Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Lady Margaret Windermere
Lady Margaret Windermere, a proper woman. After discovering that her husband is giving money to Mrs. Erlynne, she doubts his assertions that the relationship is honorable. Angry that he insists on inviting Mrs. Erlynne to their ball, Lady Windermere threatens to strike Mrs. Erlynne with her fan if she appears, but Lady Windermere loses her nerve and drops the fan instead. Put in a reckless mood, Lady Windermere accepts the attentions of Lord Darlington, a man-about-town, and agrees to run off with him. Mrs. Erlynne intercepts Lady Windermere’s letter to her husband and follows her. At the expense of her own reputation, Mrs. Erlynne saves that of Lady Windermere. From that time on, Lady Windermere defends Mrs. Erlynne and calls her a good woman, though she does not understand Mrs. Erlynne’s motives.
Mrs. Erlynne, who years ago left her husband and daughter to run away with another man. Her daughter is Lady Windermere, whom she saves from similar ignominy. She does not reveal the relationship to Lady Windermere, not wishing to destroy her illusions.
Lord Windermere, the husband of Lady Windermere. He is helping Mrs. Erlynne, whom he admires, to regain the approval of society, and hence he insists that she be invited to the ball. Mrs. Erlynne takes the blame when Lady Windermere’s fan is found in Lord Darlington’s rooms. Lord Windermere is furious about this and thinks she has betrayed his confidence.
The duchess of Berwick
The duchess of Berwick, who informs Lady Windermere of a rumored affair between Mrs. Erlynne and Lord Windermere.
Lord Augustus Lorton
Lord Augustus Lorton, the disreputable brother of the duchess of Berwick. He breaks his engagement with Mrs. Erlynne when she takes Lady Windermere’s blame. Later, he accepts her explanation that his own interests took her to Lord Darlington’s rooms, and the engagement is renewed.
Lord Darlington, a man-about-town. He persuades Lady Windermere to run away with him. Mrs. Erlynne pursues Lady Windermere to his rooms and, reminding her of her duty to her child, persuades her to go back to her husband.