The School for Scandal

Maria Character Analysis

A recently orphaned young woman, Maria is the ward of Sir Peter and thus heiress to his fortune. She is in love with Charles Surface, but is also being courted by Joseph Surface and Sir Benjamin Backbite. Maria is portrayed as being very moral and sensitive. She hates gossip in particular, and therefore finds the conversation of the gossips who congregate at Lady Sneerwell’s house appalling.

Maria Quotes in The School for Scandal

The The School for Scandal quotes below are all either spoken by Maria or refer to Maria. 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 2, Scene 2 Quotes

JOSEPH. A curious dilemma my politics have run me into! I wanted, at first, only to ingratiate myself with Lady Teazle, that she might not be my enemy with Maria; and I have, I don't know how, become her serious lover. Sincerely I begin to wish I had never made such a point of gaining so very good a character, for it has led me into so many cursed rogueries that I doubt I shall be exposed at last.

Related Characters: Joseph Surface / Mr. Surface (speaker), Lady Teazle, Maria
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

No, sir, —she has recovered her senses, and your own arts have furnished her with the means. —Sir Peter, I do not expect you to credit me—but the tenderness you expressed for me, when I am sure you could not think I was a witness to it, has penetrated so to my heart, that had I left the place without the shame of this discovery, my future life should have spoken the sincerity of my gratitude. As for that smooth-tongued hypocrite, who would have seduced the wife of his too credulous friend, while he affected honourable addresses to his ward—I behold him now in a light so truly despicable, that I shall never again respect myself for having listened to him.

Related Characters: Lady Teazle (speaker), Sir Peter Teazle, Joseph Surface / Mr. Surface , Maria
Page Number: 56-57
Explanation and Analysis:

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Maria Character Timeline in The School for Scandal

The timeline below shows where the character Maria 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
...certain rumor she has asked him to spread. This rumor concerns a young woman named Maria, her guardian Sir Peter Teazle, and the two Surface brothers, who were also Sir Peter’s... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
Family Honor and Money Theme Icon
...with the bankrupt big-spender Charles, not Joseph. Joseph, meanwhile, wants to marry his brother’s beloved Maria (although only because she is a wealthy heiress), so he and Lady Sneerwell are plotting... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
...can trust Snake to keep their secret. Joseph praises Snake’s trustworthiness. Lady Sneerwell asks after Maria and Charles. Joseph says he has not seen either of them, but he reports that... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
...that he really will be doing a good deed by breaking up the romance between Maria and Charles. Charles, he says, could only be tamed by a woman like Lady Sneerwell. (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... (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, however, says that... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
Maria is indignant, but Mrs. Candour continues to gossip. Joseph says it is amazing what stories... (full context)
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
...would, however, like to publish some love poems about a certain lady, he says, indicating Maria. (full context)
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
Family Honor and Money Theme Icon
Maria finds it painful to listen to these things said about Charles. She says she feels... (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
...also found it difficult to hear about Charles’s difficulties. Lady Sneerwell says she fears that Maria may be too much in love with Charles to change her mind, but says that... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
Family Honor and Money Theme Icon
Sir Peter says he is also upset because his ward Maria will not agree to marry the man he chooses, but is determined to wed his... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
...Candour, Crabtree, Sir Benjamin Backbite, and Joseph Surface are drinking tea at Lady Sneerwell’s home. Maria and Lady Teazle arrive, and Lady Sneerwell tells Maria to play cards with Joseph. Maria... (full context)
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
The entire party leaves the room except for Maria and Joseph. Joseph says he can tell that Maria is not having a good time,... (full context)
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
Joseph says that Maria worries about everyone’s feelings except his. She says she wishes he would not try to... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
Joseph kneels in front of Maria to beg her not to leave him on such a bad note, when Lady Teazle... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
...reflects that he had only meant to gain Lady Teazle’s support for his courtship of Maria, but instead ended up becoming her “lover.” He says that maintaining a reputation for having... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
...affair between Charles and Lady Teazle. He plans to speak to Joseph about his suspicions. Maria approaches and Sir Peter asks her if she has changed her mind about marrying Joseph,... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
...woman he loves. Charles’s friend Careless asks him who he really loves, and Charles answers “Maria,” but refuses to give her surname. The group of men sings a song celebrating women... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
...him of having an affair with his wife, but he hopes he will not lose Maria as a result of this affair with Lady Teazle. The servant tells him that Lady... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
...ill natured and jealous of Charles. She says she wishes that Sir Peter would allow Maria and Charles to marry, because he would stop suspecting Lady Teazle and Charles of having... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
Sir Peter begins to talk about Joseph’s hope to marry Maria. Joseph tries to stop Sir Peter, saying that he does not want to selfishly talk... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
...seemed to him that she might be interested in him, but he is attached to Maria. Charles says that he would never deliberately do something dishonorable, but if a pretty woman... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
...to his house so that he could explain to her that he wanted to marry Maria without making Sir Peter jealous. Sir Peter sarcastically calls this a clear explanation, and then... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
Family Honor and Money Theme Icon
...having tried to seduce his too-trusting friend’s wife while also trying to marry his ward (Maria), and then leaves the room. Joseph tries to object again by giving a speech about... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
Family Honor and Money Theme Icon
...Teazle by Sir Peter. He feels sure that he now has no chance of marrying Maria. As Sir Oliver and Rowley enter, Joseph leaves the room. Sir Oliver is offended that... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
...Joseph for spoiling their plot. She believes that Sir Peter will now support Charles and Maria’s marriage. Joseph is less upset, but Lady Sneerwell says that this is because he does... (full context)
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
Family Honor and Money Theme Icon
Sir Peter, Lady Teazle, Maria, and Rowley arrive. Sir Peter says he is glad that he arrived in time to... (full context)
Concealment and Exposure Theme Icon
Rumors, Wit, and Cruelty Theme Icon
Lady Teazle says that she believes Charles is even more anxious to make up with Maria than with his uncle. Maria does not speak at first, but then says that she... (full context)
The Man of Sentiment Theme Icon
Family Honor and Money Theme Icon
Everyone congratulates Maria and Charles on being able to marry now. Sir Peter says he hopes that Maria... (full context)