Tuesday, 11 December 2012

An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest is one of my favourite plays. I think I have what it takes to Bunburying, okay, at least in my daydreams. Though I love Oscar Wilde's wit and play with words, I didn't read anything else by him for a long while. To rectify it I read Lady Windermere's Fan and The Picture of Dorian Gray last year. Lady Windermere's Fan was like a book of quotations. We had been quoting from this book for years not knowing that these were the words of the witty Oscar Wilde. The Picture of Dorian Gray was a totally different animal, never expected Wilde to come up with something like this. So for the Back to Classics challenge play category, I picked up Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband.

Now to the story, Mrs.Cheveley, a charming and unscrupulous lady, is blackmailing Sir Robert Chiltren. She wants him to support the construction of the Argentine Canal, because she has heavily invested in it. Otherwise she will reveal the world, that as a young man, he had been unscrupulous once. It was this act that lead to his success and present position in politics. She has proof to destroy his career. What will Sir Robert Chiltern do? He confides in his friend Lord Goring? More than anything Sir Robert Chiltern fears falling down in the eyes of his wife. That he would no longer be the Ideal husband she looks up to. What would poor Chiltern do? You know

“..truth is a very complex thing, and politics is a very complex business. There are wheels within wheels. One may be under certain obligations to people that one must pay. Sooner or later in political life one has to compromise. Every one does.”

And a wife instead of idolising her husband should love him with all his weaknesses

“It is not the perfect, but the imperfect, who have need of love.”

Don't Worry. Though it deals with the dreary subject of politics, this play like 'The Importance of being earnest' is funny and full of repartee. Lord Goring is an interesting character and gets to speak some really witty lines. I would love to see this play in stage. Though the play is written more than a century before, to be precise in 1895, can't help feeling that politics is much the same. This classic play is available as a free ebook from many websites including Gutenberg and ibooks.

Here are some witty quotes:

“Ah! the strength of women comes from the fact that psychology cannot explain us. Men can be analysed, women . . . merely adored."

"Women have a wonderful instinct about things. They can discover everything except the obvious."

"I don’t see why I shouldn’t give you the same advice. I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself."

“One should never give a woman anything that she can’t wear in the evening.”

“Too much experience is a dangerous thing”

“I remember having read somewhere, in some strange book, that when the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers.”

“Well, the English can’t stand a man who is always saying he is in the right, but they are very fond of a man who admits that he has been in the wrong.”

“And in England a man who can’t talk morality twice a week to a large, popular, immoral audience is quite over as a serious politician.”

“Nobody is incapable of doing a foolish thing. Nobody is incapable of doing a wrong thing.”

“Fathers have so much to learn from their sons nowadays.”

“Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.”

“Other people are quite dreadful. The only possible society is oneself.”

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance, Phipps.”

“We men and women are not made to accept such sacrifices from each other.”

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