Of all the moral compasses in The Importance of Being Earnest, Miss Prism has the most rigid perspective. She is quick to judge someone as a good or bad person based solely on a single action. While most of the characters use whatever reasoning they need to justify their actions, Miss Prism claims there is a clear difference between right and wrong. She oversees Cecily’s upbringing, and she takes her task incredibly seriously. Miss Prism wants Cecily to mold into someone respectable like Jack Worthing rather than his irresponsible brother Ernest. Despite all Cecily’s arguments that their household could be a good influence on Ernest, Miss Prism is convinced people can’t change, and certainly not for the better.

The Importance of Being Earnest plays with dramatic irony in revealing nearly every character is not entirely who they claim to be. Miss Prism, though she purports to be an upstanding, moral woman, is just as easily flustered by a love interest as Cecily is. Miss Prism is clearly attracted to Dr. Chasuble, the local reverend, and she does not need much of an excuse from Cecily to spend time alone with him. Each time Cecily crafts a ruse to send Miss Prism and Dr. Chasuble off together, Miss Prism verbally disapproves of Cecily’s methods, but she goes with him anyway. Miss Prism wants the world to be as virtuous as she sees herself. The irony in her character comes at the end of the story when we learn it was Miss Prism who left baby Jack in a handbag at the railway station. For all her talk of good people and bad people, Miss Prism was a neglectful enough caretaker to misplace a child because she was too focused on the novel she was writing. She turns out to be just as prone to mistakes as everyone else.