Lady Bracknell: What is your income?
Jack: Between seven and eight thousand a year.
Lady Bracknell: [Makes a note in her book] In land, or in investments?
Jack: In investments, chiefly.
Lady Bracknell: That is satisfactory. What between the duties expected of one during one's lifetime, and the duties exacted from one after one's death, land has ceased to be either a profit or a pleasure. It gives one position, and prevents one from keeping it up. That's all that can be said about land.
Jack: I have a country house with some land, of course, attached to it, about fifteen hundred acres, I believe; but I don't depend on that for my real income. In fact, as far as I can make out, the poachers are the only people who make anything out of it.
Lady Bracknell: A country house! How many bedrooms? Well, that point can be cleared up afterwards. You have a town house, I hope? A girl with a simple, unspoiled nature, like Gwendolen, could hardly be expected to reside in the country.
Jack: Well, I own a house in Belgrave Square, but it is let by the year to Lady Bloxham. Of course, I can get it back whenever I like, at six months' notice.
Lady Bracknell: Lady Bloxham? I don't know her.
Jack: Oh, she goes about very little. She is a lady considerably advanced in years.
Lady Bracknell: Ah, nowadays that is no guarantee of respectability of character. What number in Belgrave Square?
Lady Bracknell: [Shaking her head] The unfashionable side. I thought there was something. However, that could easily be altered.
Jack: Do you mean the fashion, or the side?
Lady Bracknell: [Sternly] Both, if necessary, I presume. (I. 184-198)
What the upper class considers respectable is wealth and style. This is shown in Lady Bracknell’s interest in Jack’s assets when considering whether or not he is a proper suitor for Gwendolen’s hand. It is also important that Jack has enough wealth to afford both a country and town house.
To pass Lady Bracknell’s test, Jack must live in a fashionable area in the city. Because of her pride in her rank, Lady Bracknell assumes that Jack will gladly either relocate his house to the fashionable side or change the current fashionable trends.