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An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde.

233303_original

Title: An Ideal Husband.
Author: Oscar Wilde.
Genre: Fiction, literature, play, humour, satire, politics, social criticism, romance.
Country: Ireland.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1895.
Summary: The story revolves around blackmail and political corruption, and touches on the themes of public and private honour. Sir Robert Chiltern is quickly moving up in the political world, with an adoring, saint-like wife, and a reputation of untainted honour and high moral standards. But it is all threatened by the coming of Mrs Cheveley, who has a secret from Sir Chiltern's youth that could ruin his career and his marriage, and means to use it to black-mail him into sacrificing his integrity.

My rating: 9/10
My review:


She has the fascinating tyranny of youth, and the astonishing courage of innocence.

MABEL CHILTERN: Oh, I love London Society! I think it has immensely improved. It is entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics.

MRS CHEVELEY: An acquaintance that begins with a compliment is sure to develop into a real friendship. It starts in the right manner.

SIR ROBERT CHILTERN: What would those modern psychological novelists, of whom we hear so much, say to such a theory as that?
MRS CHEVELEY: Ah! the strength of women comes from the fact that psychology cannot explain us. Men can be analysed, women... merely adored.
SIR ROBERT CHILTERN: You think science cannot grapple with the problem of women?
MRS CHEVELEY: Science can never grapple with the irrational. That is why it has no future before it, in this world.
SIR ROBERT CHILTERN: And women represent the irrational.
MRS CHEVELEY: Well-dressed women do.

MRS CHEVELEY: Questions are never indiscreet. Answers sometimes are.

MABEL CHILTERN: You are always telling me of your bad qualities, Lord Goring.
LORD GORING: I have only told you half of them as yet, Miss Mabel!
MABEL CHILTERN: Are the others very bad?
LORD GORING: Quite dreadful! When I think of them at night I go to sleep at once.

MABEL CHILTERN: What an absurd reason!
LORD GORING: All reasons are absurd.

LORD GORING: I love talking about nothing, father. It is the only thing I know anything about.

LORD GORING: I adore political parties. They are the only place left to us where people don't talk politics.

MRS MARCHMONT [in her most dreamy manner]: I like looking at geniuses, and listening to beautiful people.

SIR ROBERT CHILTERN: What a tedious, practical subject for you to talk about, Mrs Cheveley!
MRS CHEVELEY: Oh, I like tedious, practical subjects. What I don't like are tedious, practical people. There is a wide difference.

MRS CHEVELEY [shaking her head]: I am not in a mood tonight for silver twilights, or rose-pink dawns. I want to talk business.

MRS CHEVELEY: This is the game of life as we all have to play it, Sir Robert, sooner or later!

MRS CHEVELEY: And after all, Sir Robert, why should you sacrifice your entire future rather than deal diplomatically with your enemy? For the moment I am your enemy. I admit it! And I am much stronger than you are. The big battalions are on my side. You have a splendid position, but it is your splendid position that makes you so vulnerable. You can't defend it! And I am in attack. Of course I have not talked morality to you. You must admit in fairness that I have spared you that. Years ago you did a clever, unscrupulous thing; it turned out a great success. You owe to it your fortune and position. And now you have got to pay for it. Sooner or later we have all to pay for what we do. You have to pay now.

MRS CHEVELEY: Even you are not rich enough, Sir Robert, to buy back your past. No man is.

MRS CHEVELEY: I intend to play quite fairly with you. One should always play fairly... when one has the winning cards.

LORD GORING: I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.

LADY CHILTERN: Circumstances should never alter principles!

LADY CHILTERN: Robert, that is all very well for other men, for men who treat life simply as a sordid speculation; but not for you, Robert, not for you. You are different. All your life you have stood apart from others. You have never let the world soil you. To the world, as to myself, you have been an ideal always. Oh! be that great ideal still. That great inheritance throw not away - that tower of ivory do not destroy.

LORD GORING: Secrets from other people's wives are a necessary luxury in modern life. So, at least, I am always told at the club by people who are bald enough to know better. But no man should have a secret from his own wife. She invariably finds it out. Women have a wonderful instinct about things. They can discover everything except the obvious.

LORD GORING: Life is never fair, Robert. And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.

SIR ROBERT CHILTERN: Weak? Oh, I am sick of hearing that phrase. Sick of using it about others. Weak? Do you really think, Arthur, that it is weakness that yields to temptation? I tell you that there are terrible temptations that it requires strength, strength and courage, to yield to. To stake all one's life on a single moment, to risk everything on one throw, whether the stake be power or pleasure, I care not - there is no weakness in that. There is a horrible, a terrible courage.

LORD GORING: Never mind what I say, Robert! I am always saying what I shouldn't say. In fact, I usually say what I really think. A great mistake nowadays. It makes one so liable to be misunderstood.

LORDING GORING [turning round]: Well, she wore far too much rouge last night, and not quite enough clothes. That is always a sign of despair in a woman.

LORD GORING: Ah! the truth is a thing I get rid of as soon as possible! Bad habit, by the way. Makes one very unpopular at the club...

LORD GORING [after a long pause]: Nobody is incapable of doing a foolish thing. Nobody is incapable of doing a wrong thing.

LADY CHILTERN: Your voice wakes terrible memories - memories of things that made me love you - memories of words that made me love you - memories that now are horrible to me. And how I worshipped you! You were to me something apart from common life, a thing pure, noble, honest, without stain. The world seemed to me finer because you were in it, and goodness more real because you lived.

SIR ROBERT CHILTERN: It is not the perfect, but the imperfect, who have need of love. It is when we are wounded by our own hands, or by the hands of others, that love should come to cure us - else what use is love at all? All sins, except a sin against itself, Love should forgive. All lives, save loveless lives, true Love should pardon.

Phipps, the Butler, is arranging some newspapers on the writing-table. The distinction of Phipps is his impassivity. He has been termed by enthusiasts the Ideal Butler. The Sphinx is not so incommunicable. He is a mask with a manner. Of his intellectual or emotional life, history knows nothing. He represents the dominance of form.

LORD GORING: To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance, Phipps.

LORD CAVERSHAM [going towards the smoking-room]: That is a paradox, sir. I hate paradoxes.
LORD GORING: So do I, father. Everybody one meets is a paradox nowadays. It is a great bore. It makes society so obvious.

LORD CAVERSHAM: No woman, plain or pretty, has any common sense at all, sir. Common sense is the privilege of our sex.
LORD GORING: Quite so. And we men are so self-sacrificing that we never use it, do we, father?

LORD GORING: My dear Mrs Cheveley, you have always been far too clever to know anything about love.

MRS CHEVELEY: I suppose that is meant for a compliment. My dear Arthur, women are never disarmed by compliments. Men always are. That is the difference between the two sexes.
LORD GORING: Women are never disarmed by anything, so far as I know them.

LORD CAVERSHAM: I wish you would go into Parliament.
LORD GORING: My dear father, only people who look dull ever get into the House of Commons, and only people who are dull ever succeed there.

LORD CAVERSHAM: I hate this affectation of youth, sir. It is a great deal too prevalent nowadays.
LORD GORING: Youth isn't an affectation. Youth is an art.

LORD CAVERSHAM: You don't deserve her, sir.
LORD GORING: My dear father, if we men married the women we deserved, we should have a very bad time of it.

LORD GORING: It seems to me that I am a little in the way here.
MABEL CHILTERN: Is is very good for you to be in the way, and to know what people say of you behind your back.
LORD GORING: I don't at all like knowing what people say of me behind my back. It makes me far too conceited.

LADY CHILTERN: [troubled and hesitating]: But it is my husband himself who wishes to retire from public life. He feels it is his duty. It was he who first said so.
LORD GORING: Rather than lose your love, Robert would do anything, wreck his whole career, as he is on the brink of doing now. He is making for you a terrible sacrifice. Take my advice, Lady Chiltern, and do not accept a sacrifice so great. If you do you will live to repent it bitterly. We men and women are not made to accept such sacrifices from each other. We are not worthy of them.

SIR ROBERT CHILTERN: Loveless marriages are horrible. But there is one thing worse than absolutely loveless marriage. A marriage in which there is love, but on one side only; faith, but on one side only; devotion, but on one side only, and in which of the two hearts one is sure to be broken.
Tags: 1890s, 19th century - fiction, fiction, humour (fiction), irish - fiction, literature, my favourite books, oscar wilde, plays, politics (fiction), romance, satire, social criticism (fiction)
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