The ideal of Ernest during his Cambridge years and during his first years in London, Towneley is more a symbol than a fully developed character. He represents that rare breed of people who are unconsciously and perfectly attuned to their environment. It is Towneley's terse "No, no, no" in reply to Ernest's question of "Don't you like poor people?" that undermines Ernest's faith in his plan to gain converts to Christianity from the lower classes. Even before he learns of Ernest's delayed inheritance, Towneley stands by Ernest, following the latter's arrest and imprisonment. Ernest's realization that Towneley, as his name suggests, is the epitome of human development forces him to the further realization that he, Ernest, is simply "a hewer of wood," one who must struggle consciously and diligently to achieve his own limited potential. Ernest's resolve to terminate his friendship with Towneley is made reluctantly but firmly, for he wisely concludes that Towneley's further negative responses to his efforts — and Towneley is certain to react negatively to his planned attacks on society — would only discourage him from carrying them out.