The School for Scandal

A sharp-tongued, hypocritical schemer and gossipmonger, Lady Sneerwell is the center of a group of high-society men and women who spend their time gossiping and creating scandals. Lady Sneerwell ruins reputations by submitting stories to the gossip columns and by paying others to forge incriminating letters. In love with Charles Surface, Lady Sneerwell conspires with Joseph Surface to prevent an engagement between Charles Surface and Maria, who Joseph hopes to marry for her money.

Lady Sneerwell Quotes in The School for Scandal

The The School for Scandal quotes below are all either spoken by Lady Sneerwell or refer to Lady Sneerwell. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of The School for Scandal published in 1991.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

LADY SNEERWELL. Yes, my dear Snake; and I am no hypocrite to deny the satisfaction I reap from the success of my efforts. Wounded myself in the early part of my life by the envenomed tongue of slander, I confess I have since known no pleasure equal to the reducing others to the level of my own injured reputation.

SNAKE. Nothing can be more natural. But, Lady Sneerwell, there is one affair in which you have lately employed me, wherein, I confess, I am at a loss to guess your motives.

Related Characters: Lady Sneerwell (speaker), Snake (speaker)
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

MRS. CANDOUR. Now, I'll die, but you are so scandalous, I'll forswear your society.

LADY TEAZLE. What's the matter, Mrs. Candour?

MRS. CANDOUR. They'll not allow our friend Miss Vermillion to be handsome.

LADY SNEERWELL. O surely she is a pretty woman.

CRABTREE. I am very glad you think so, ma’am.

MRS. CANDOUR. She has a charming fresh colour.

LADY TEAZLE. Yes, when it is fresh put on.

MRS. CANDOUR. O fie! I'll swear her colour is natural: I have seen it come and go.

LADY TEAZLE. I dare swear you have, ma'am: it goes off at night, and comes again in the morning.

SIR BENJAMIN. True, ma'am, it not only comes and goes, but, what's more—egad, her maid can fetch and carry it!

MRS. CANDOUR. Ha! ha! ha! how I hate to hear you talk so! But surely now, her sister is, or was, very handsome.

Related Characters: Lady Teazle (speaker), Lady Sneerwell (speaker), Mrs. Candour (speaker), Sir Benjamin Backbite (speaker), Mr. Crabtree (speaker), Miss Vermillion
Page Number: 16-17
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

SIR PETER. Madam, madam, I beg your pardon—there’s no stopping these good gentlemen's tongues. —But when I tell you, Mrs. Candour, that the lady they are abusing is a particular friend of mine, I hope you'll not take her part.

LADY SNEERWELL. Ha! ha! ha! Well said, Sir Peter! but you are a cruel creature, —too phlegmatic yourself for a jest, and too peevish to allow wit in others.

SIR PETER. Ah! madam, true wit is more nearly allied to good-nature than your ladyship is aware of.

LADY TEAZLE. True, Sir Peter: I believe they are so near akin that they can never be united.

SIR BENJAMIN. Or rather, madam, suppose them to be man and wife, because one seldom sees them together.

Related Characters: Lady Teazle (speaker), Sir Peter Teazle (speaker), Lady Sneerwell (speaker), Sir Benjamin Backbite (speaker)
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

SIR BENJAMIN. Aye, there; I told you Mr. Surface was the man.

MRS. CANDOUR. No, no, indeed; the assignation was with Charles.

LADY SNEERWELL. With Charles! You alarm me, Mrs. Candour!

MRS. CANDOUR. Yes, yes, he was the lover. Mr. Surface, to do him justice, was only the informer.

SIR BENJAMIN. Well, I’ll not dispute with you, Mrs. Candour; but, be it which it may, I hope that Sir Peter’s wound will not—

MRS. CANDOUR. Sir Peter’s wound! Oh, mercy! I didn’t hear a word of their fighting.

LADY SNEERWELL. Nor I, a syllable.

SIR BENJAMIN. No! what, no mention of the duel?

MRS. CANDOUR. Not a word.

SIR BENJAMIN. O Lord, yes, yes: they fought before they left the room.

LADY SNEERWELL. Pray, let us hear.

MRS. CANDOUR. Aye, do oblige us with the duel.

Related Characters: Lady Sneerwell (speaker), Mrs. Candour (speaker), Sir Benjamin Backbite (speaker), Lady Teazle, Sir Peter Teazle, Joseph Surface / Mr. Surface , Charles Surface
Page Number: 63-64
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 5, Scene 3 Quotes

LADY SNEERWELL. The torments of shame and disappointment on you all.–

LADY TEAZLE. Hold, Lady Sneerwell,—before you go, let me thank you for the trouble you and that gentleman have taken, in writing letters from me to Charles, and answering them yourself; and let me also request you to make my respects to the scandalous college, of which you are president, and inform them, that Lady Teazle, licentiate, begs leave to return the diploma they gave her, as she leaves off practice, and kills characters no longer.

LADY SNEERWELL. You too, madam—provoking—insolent—May your husband live these fifty years!

Related Characters: Lady Teazle (speaker), Lady Sneerwell (speaker), Sir Peter Teazle, Charles Surface
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Lady Sneerwell Character Timeline in The School for Scandal

The timeline below shows where the character Lady Sneerwell appears in The School for Scandal. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
The play begins in Lady Sneerwell ’s home. She is sitting at her dressing table and talking to Snake, a man... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
Snake then asks Lady Sneerwell to explain her motivations for a certain rumor she has asked him to spread. This... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
Family Honor and Money Theme Icon
Lady Sneerwell explains that she is really in love with the bankrupt big-spender Charles, not Joseph. Joseph,... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
Joseph Surface is then announced, and enters. Lady Sneerwell tells him that she has informed Snake of their plans and that they can trust... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
Joseph says he only wishes it were in his power to help his brother, but Lady Sneerwell cuts him off, saying there is no need for him to hypocritically pretend to have... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Snake leaves and Joseph tells Lady Sneerwell that she was wrong to place her trust in him, because he has seen Snake... (full context)
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
Maria enters, looking upset. She tells Lady Sneerwell that she slipped away from Sir Peter’s house because Sir Benjamin Backbite and his uncle... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
A servant announces that Mrs. Candour’s carriage has arrived. Lady Sneerwell says that Maria will like Mrs. Candour, who has a reputation for being good-natured. Maria,... (full context)
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
...his nephew is a wonderful poet who comes up with hilarious rhymes about his acquaintances. Lady Sneerwell asks Sir Benjamin why he never publishes his verse. Sir Benjamin explains that, since his... (full context)
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
Family Honor and Money Theme Icon
...to listen to these things said about Charles. She says she feels sick and leaves. Lady Sneerwell sends Mrs. Candour to follow Maria and make sure she is all right. Lady Sneerwell... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
Family Honor and Money Theme Icon
Sir Benjamin and Crabtree leave, still remarking on Charles as they go. Lady Sneerwell laughs at how eager they are to continue gossiping. Joseph says he thinks Lady Sneerwell... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
...be perverse and fight with him by the social set who spend their time at Lady Sneerwell ’s house. (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
Lady Teazle then says she is off to Lady Sneerwell ’s house. Sir Peter says that he disapproves of his wife spending her time with... (full context)
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
Lady Teazle departs, reminding Sir Peter that he promised to come to Lady Sneerwell ’s, too. Left alone, Sir Peter says that he has failed to exert any control... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
Lady Sneerwell , Mrs. Candour, Crabtree, Sir Benjamin Backbite, and Joseph Surface are drinking tea at Lady... (full context)
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
...while egging the others on. Sir Peter sticks up for one of their targets and Lady Sneerwell accuses him of being cruel for not allowing them to enjoy their jokes. Sir Peter... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
Lady Teazle begins to complain that her friend Lady Sneerwell spreads rumors about her, which makes Sir Peter even more suspicious. The worst part, she... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
...Lady Teazle with Joseph Surface, but Mrs. Candour insists that the affair was with Charles. Lady Sneerwell arrives and expresses pity for Lady Teazle, then immediately launches into a discussion of her... (full context)
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
...Crabtree gives an extremely detailed account of what happened and how Sir Peter was wounded. Lady Sneerwell realizes that they do not really know what happened and leaves, hoping to find out... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
In Joseph’s library, Lady Sneerwell is criticizing Joseph for spoiling their plot. She believes that Sir Peter will now support... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
...knock at the door. Joseph says it must be his uncle, Sir Oliver, and tells Lady Sneerwell to wait in the next room. Lady Sneerwell tells him to make sure that his... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
...someone else. Sir Peter and Charles exclaim in confusion, but Maria says that Charles and Lady Sneerwell know the truth. Joseph then opens the door to allow Lady Sneerwell to enter. She... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
Snake enters and apologizes to Lady Sneerwell : he says that although she paid him well to lie and forge letters, Rowley... (full context)