Before leaving for India, Sir Oliver Surface entrusts his nephews, Charles and Joseph, to Sir Peter Teazle. Twenty-five years later, Charles is considered wild and Joseph, steady. Sir Peter marries Ann, who is many years his junior, and becomes the guardian of Maria whom Charles loves. Joseph learns of Maria's wealth and plans to marry her with the aid of Lady Sneerwell, who loves Charles. When Ann and Sir Peter quarrel over her extravagances, their argument is distorted by Sir Benjamin Backbite, a member of the notorious gossip clique, The School for Scandal. Meanwhile, Sir Oliver returns from India and, meeting his nephews under an assumed name, is delighted with Charles, but disgusted with the hypocritical Joseph. Ann and Joseph are having an affair, although Sir Peter suspects Charles. When Sir Peter goes to Joseph's room to tell him that he has left everything in his will to Ann, she overhears. There is a confrontation among the persons involved in the incident which is exaggerated by the gossips. In the end, Ann, filled with remorse, is reconciled with Sir Peter, Charles and Maria are able to marry, and Lady Sneerwell will marry Joseph who has been disinherited by his uncle.