Before the themes of this book are drawn together a brief visit will be made to a fictional morning-room in Half-Moon Street, London. The year is 1895. A young man is being interviewed by his prospective mother-in-law: 1 Lady Bracknell: 

… I have always been of the opinion that a man who desired to get married should know either everything or nothing. Which do you know?

Jack (after some hesitation): 

I know nothing, Lady Bracknell.

Lady Bracknell: 

I am pleased to hear it. I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.