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Lady Sneerwell tries to separate Charles and Maria because she, inspite of being a middle-aged widow, desires to marry Charles. She finds an ally in the secretive and dubious Joseph Surface who longs to marry Maria only for her huge property. Joseph and Lady Sneerwell enter a collusion for both of them want to break up between Charles and Maria. Lady Sneerwell's method is one of gossip and slander. She and Joseph join hands to destroy the rakish Charles's already-tattered reputation so that Maria deserts Charles in utter disgust. Lady Sneerwell's bid to allure Lady Teazle away from her husband is also not unconnected with her secret design, for Sir Peter Teazle happens to be the guardian of Maria. However, Lady Sneerwell's plot does not mature and Joseph is exposed in full.
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