The School for Scandal


Richard Sheridan

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The School for Scandal: Act 3, Scene 2 Summary & Analysis

Sir Oliver, pretending to be “Mr. Premium,” arrives at Charles’s house with Moses. While Charles’s servant Trip is telling Charles that he has a visitor, Sir Oliver recognizes that the house used to belong to his brother. Moses tells him that Joseph sold the house and all its contents to Charles, and that Sir Peter thought this to be an extravagant act by Charles. Sir Oliver says it was more contemptible on Joseph’s part to have sold the house and other heirlooms.
Sir Oliver is interested in signs that the family’s heritage has sentimental value for his nephews. Joseph would have sold his father’s house even though he did not need the money, which suggests greediness or indifference to family history and reputation. Charles, however, bought his father’s house from his brother, despite being short on money.
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Trip returns and says Charles has asked them to wait. Sir Oliver, pretending to be “Mr. Premium,” asks Trip whether he likes working for Charles. Trip says he does: although he often gets paid late, he also takes his master’s cast-off clothing. Trip consults with Moses about getting a loan from him, offering to use clothing he expects to get from Charles in the future as collateral. Sir Oliver is shocked that a servant would presume to ask for a loan in the same way a member of the upper class does.
Sir Oliver believes that there should be a sharp difference between members of high society like himself and those of the lower classes. He thinks that part of the Surface reputation should be to assert this difference, and feels that Charles’s servant’s behavior shows that Charles is not enforcing these distinctions.
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