Who are the characters of Richard Sheridan's comedy of manners, School for Scandal?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Richard Sheridan's play, School for Scandal, was one of the most popular comedy of manners during the latter half of the 18th century. Major characters include:

  • Sir Benjamin Backbite.  Rude suitor of Marie.
  • Maria.  Sir Peter's wealthy ward.
  • Moses.  Charles' honest moneylender.
  • Rowley.  Kind-hearted servant to Sir Peter.
  • Snake.  Worthy of his name, Snake works for Lady Sneerwell but later betrays her.
  • Lady Sneerwell.  Slanderous woman also worth of her name since she "sneers well." 
  • Charles Surface.  The protagonist of the play, he is in love with Maria, but Mrs. Sneerwell also desires him.
  • Joseph Surface.  Friendly, respected but hypocritical. He also desires Maria, his brother's love but entices Lady Sneerwell. He is later revealed to be selfish and cruel. 
  • Sir Oliver Surface.  The rich uncle of Charles and Joseph, he disguises himself as a moneylender to test his relations.
  • Lady Teazle.  Her country roots still show, but she has learned to spend money wildly. She fights with her husband and flirts with young men, but in the end, she shows her loyalty.
  • Sir Peter Teazle.  The guardian of Joseph and Charles, he loves his much younger but temperamental wife. take advantage of him.