Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 356
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.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 645
Agatha is the daughter of the Duchess of Berwick. She is passive and only interested in getting married.
See Lady Jedburgh
Mrs. Cowper-Cowper is one of the society ladies who attends Lady Windermere’s ball.
Lord Darlington is in love with Lady Windermere, and hints of her husband’s apparent infidelity in order to gain her affection. When she does not return his love, he leaves town.
Duchess of Berwick
A manipulative woman, the Duchess of Berwick thrives on the pettiness of high society. She is the one who initiates the series of misunderstandings between Mrs. Erlynne and Lady Windermere by gossiping about Mrs. Erlynne and Lord Windermere.
At the same time, she masterfully orchestrates the marriage of her daughter to Mr. Hopper, an Australian visitor. Once she snags the young man, she begins her next project of making sure the new couple stays in London rather than going to Sydney.
The mysterious Mrs. Erlynne is Lady Windermere’s long-lost mother—a fact that is not revealed until the late in the play. Lady Windermere never learns her true identity.
Mrs. Erlynne wants desperately to be accepted within her daughter’s social circles. She has a reputation as a woman with a shady past, a ‘‘divorced woman, going about under an assumed name, a bad woman preying upon life.’’ In other words, she seems to be a woman with no substantial income, and therefore no right to socialize with the Windermeres and their circle.
However, Mrs. Erlynne reveals herself to be a woman of quality, who puts aside her own interests in favor of protecting her child. Having found herself capable of a mother’s devotion, she decides to escape in order to spare her daughter further embarrassment. Fortunately, Lord Lorton still loves her and offers his hand in marriage.
Cecil Graham is a cynic who trades witty barbs with his pals Windermere, Dumby, and Lorton. He is described as the experienced man about town. He is the one who discovers Lady Windermere’s fan in Darlington’s rooms.
Mr. Hopper is an Australian man who proposes to Agatha. Although he hopes to take her home to Sydney, the Duchess wants them to remain in England.
Lady Jedburgh is Cecil Graham’s dowager aunt.
Lord Augustus Lorton
The brother of the Duchess of Berwick, Tuppy is a rather simple fellow. He is in love with Mrs. Erlynne and is greatly relieved to learn that she has received an invitation to Lady Windermere’s ball, since this serves as an invitation into high society.
He is a very trusting man; he accepts Mrs. Erlynne’s excuses and does not rescind his marriage invitation after the scandal.
Parker is the Windermeres’ butler.
Lady Plymdale is the wife of Mr. Dunby. She disapproves of Mrs. Erlynne and of her husband’s visits with her.
Rosalie is Lady’s Windermere’s maid.
One of the society ladies who enjoy the social season.
See Lord Augustus Lorton
Lord Arthur Windermere
For most of the play, it seems that Lord Windermere is having an affair with Mrs. Erlynne. Like his wife, Windermere is a sincere and generous person. He is also loyal: even when it is in his self-interest to tell his wife the truth, he keeps Mrs. Erlynne’s secret. His goodness and straightforward manner is symbolized by his plain way of talking.
Lady Margaret Windermere
Margaret is a beautiful, intelligent, and honorable woman who nearly leaves her husband because of a vicious rumor. At first, she rebuffs Lord Darlington’s advances and believes that her husband is not having an affair with Mrs. Erlynne. However, she prepares to leave her husband when it appears that the gossip about her husband’s relationship with Mrs. Erlynne is true.