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A Study Guide for Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband," excerpted from Gale's acclaimed Drama For Students. This concise study guide includes plot summary; character analysis; author biography; study questions; historical context; suggestions for further reading; and much more. For any literature project, trust Drama For Students for all of your research needs.
An Ideal Husband is an 1895 stage play by Oscar Wilde that revolves around blackmail and political corruption, and touches on the themes of public and private honour. The action is set in London, in "the present", and takes place over the course of twenty-four hours. "Sooner or later," Wilde notes, "we shall all have to pay for what we do." But he adds that, "No one should be entirely judged by their past." Together with The Importance of Being Earnest, it is often considered Wilde's dramatic masterpiece. After Earnest, it is his most popularly produced play. The play opens during a dinner party at the home of Sir Robert Chiltern in London's fashionable Grosvenor Square. Sir Robert, a prestigious member of the House of Commons, and his wife, Lady Chiltern, are hosting a gathering that includes his friend Lord Goring, a dandified bachelor and close friend to the Chilterns, Mabel Chiltern, and other genteel guests. During the party, Mrs. Cheveley, an enemy of Lady Chiltern from their school days, attempts to blackmail Sir Robert into supporting a fraudulent scheme to build a canal in Argentina. Apparently, Mrs. Cheveley's late mentor and lover, Baron Arnheim, induced the young Sir Robert to sell him a Cabinet secret - which enabled Arnheim to buy shares in the Suez Canal Company three days before the British government announced its purchase of the company. Arnheim's payoff was the basis of Sir Robert's fortune, and Mrs. Cheveley has Robert's letter to Arnheim as proof of his crime. Fearing the ruin of both career and marriage, Sir Robert submits to her demands. When Mrs. Cheveley pointedly informs Lady Chiltern of Sir Robert's change of heart regarding the canal scheme, the morally inflexible Lady Chiltern, unaware of both her husband's past and the blackmail plot, insists that Sir Robert renege on his promise to Mrs. Chevely. For Lady Chiltern, their marriage is predicated on her having an "ideal husband"-that is, a model spouse in both private and public life whom she can worship; thus, Sir Robert must remain unimpeachable in all his decisions. Sir Robert complies with the lady's wishes and apparently seals his doom. Also toward the end of Act I, Mabel and Lord Goring come upon a diamond brooch that Lord Goring gave someone many years ago. Goring takes the brooch and asks that Mabel inform him if anyone comes to retrieve it.
An Ideal Husband is an 1895 stage play by Oscar Wilde that revolves around blackmail and political corruption, and touches on the themes of public and private honour. The action is set in London, in "the present", and takes place over the course of twenty-four hours. "Sooner or later," Wilde notes, "we shall all have to pay for what we do." But he adds that, "No one should be entirely judged by their past." Together with The Importance of Being Earnest, it is often considered Wilde's dramatic masterpiece. After Earnest, it is his most popularly produced play. The play opens during a dinner party at the home of Sir Robert Chiltern in London's fashionable Grosvenor Square. Sir Robert, a prestigious member of the House of Commons, and his wife, Lady Chiltern, are hosting a gathering that includes his friend Lord Goring, a dandified bachelor and close friend to the Chilterns, Mabel Chiltern, and other genteel guests. During the party, Mrs. Cheveley, an enemy of Lady Chiltern from their school days, attempts to blackmail Sir Robert into supporting a fraudulent scheme to build a canal in Argentina. Apparently, Mrs. Cheveley's late mentor and lover, Baron Arnheim, induced the young Sir Robert to sell him a Cabinet secret - which enabled Arnheim to buy shares in the Suez Canal Company three days before the British government announced its purchase of the company. Arnheim's payoff was the basis of Sir Robert's fortune, and Mrs. Cheveley has Robert's letter to Arnheim as proof of his crime. Fearing the ruin of both career and marriage, Sir Robert submits to her demands.
Wilde's scintillating drawing-room comedy revolves around a blackmail scheme that forces a married couple to reexamine their moral standards. A supporting cast of young lovers, society matrons, and a formidable femme fatale exchange sparkling repartee, keeping the action of the play at a lively pace.
An Ideal Husband is an 1895 stage play by Oscar Wilde that revolves around blackmail and political corruption, and touches on the themes of public and private honour. The action is set in London, in "the present", and takes place over the course of twenty-four hours. "Sooner or later," Wilde notes, "we shall all have to pay for what we do." But he adds that, "No one should be entirely judged by their past." Together with The Importance of Being Earnest, it is often considered Wilde's dramatic masterpiece. After Earnest, it is his most popularly produced play. In the summer of 1893, Oscar Wilde began writing An Ideal Husband; he completed it later that winter. His work began at Goring-on-Thames, after which he named the character Lord Goring, and concluded writing at St. James Place. He initially sent the completed play to the Garrick Theatre, where the manager rejected it, but it was soon accepted by the Haymarket Theatre, where Lewis Waller had temporarily taken control. Waller was an excellent actor and cast himself as Sir Robert Chiltern. The play gave the Haymarket the success it desperately needed. After opening on 3 January 1895, the play continued for 124 performances. In April of that year, Wilde was arrested for "gross indecency" and his name was publicly removed from the play. On 6 April, the same day as Wilde's arrest, the play moved to the Criterion Theatre where it ran from 13-27 April. The play was published in 1899, although Wilde was not listed as its author. This published version differs slightly from the performed play, as Wilde added many passages and cut others. Prominent additions included written stage directions and character descriptions. Wilde was a leader in the effort to make plays accessible to the reading public.
To marry a rake When heiress Sophie Ravel finds herself in a compromising situation, notorious Richard Crawford, Viscount Bingfield, swoops in and saves her reputation. She might have escaped the attentions of one undesirable, but will Richard's protection expose her to even more scandal? Richard curses his impetuousness at offering a betrothal in the heat of the moment. He gladly accepts Sophie's terms that their engagement remain a pretense…until, quite by chance, he unlocks his shy fiancée's passionate nature. Now nothing will steer him from wedding—then bedding—his blushing bride….
Blackmail, political corruption, drama! Sounds like a great comedic premise. So why aren't you laughing? Maybe because "An Ideal Husband" was written over 100 years ago. Despite being one of Oscar Wilde's greatest works, some of the ideas and concepts are a little confusing today. If you need a little help, then this study guide is just for you! This contains a comprehension study of Wilde’s classic work (including chapter summaries for every chapter, overview of themes and characters, and other historical content). This edition also includes the complete text of the play. We all need refreshers every now and then. Whether you are a student trying to cram for that big final, or someone just trying to understand a book more, BookCaps can help. We are a small, but growing company, and are adding titles every month.

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