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An Ideal Husband

Oscar Wilde

Book Overview: 

A comedy/drama which revolves around blackmail and political corruption, and touches on the themes of public and private honor. The action is set in London and takes place within a single day. “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.”

The book has been adopted into several films including a recent popular big screen movie starring Julianne Moore, Minnie Driver, Jeremy Northam, Cate Blanchett and Rupert Everett.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .I am afraid I don’t quite understand what you mean.

mrs. cheveley.  [Leaning back on the sofa and looking at him.]  How very disappointing!  And I have come all the way from Vienna in order that you should thoroughly understand me.

sir robert chiltern.  I fear I don’t.

mrs. cheveley.  [In her most nonchalant manner.]  My dear Sir Robert, you are a man of the world, and you have your price, I suppose.  Everybody has nowadays.  The drawback is that most people are so dreadfully expensive.  I know I am.  I hope you will be more reasonable in your terms.

sir robert chiltern.  [Rises indignantly.]  If you will allow me, I will call your carriage for you.  You have lived so long abroad, Mrs. Cheveley, that you seem to be unable to realise that you are talking to an English gentleman.

mrs. cheveley.  [Detains him by touching his arm with her fan, and keeping it there while she . . . Read More

Community Reviews

THIS WAS AWESOME!!

When the name "Oscar Wilde" is brought into company, most people immediately think of "The Importance of Being Earnest," or "That fellow who was so witty," or "Oh, wasn't he really, really gay?"

What most people DON'T seem to think of is that Wilde's work was far from trifling (Earnest), more tha...more

The first positive thing I can say about Wilde's 'An Ideal Husband' is that it includes such grand descriptive details that for the most part, I could almost hear an imaginary audience praising him under their breaths. This play, first performed in 1899, was a joyous and light read, full of fancy...more

This is my first Oscar Wild and what a great read it was! I loved his wit, sarcasm and humor. I also liked his realistic observance of humans and his exposure of human follies in the face of power and wealth. He exposes both the black and white sides of ambition, stressing on the length one would...more

Manipulative Mrs Cheveley tries to blackmail Sir Robert Chiltern for a mistake he made as a young man. When his wife finds out, she cannot accept the fact that her husband has imperfections. Lady Chiltern had put him on a pedestal, but no man can be totally righteous. The play has some moments of...more

It's a delight to read Wilde's plays, clever and witty, and by all accounts people flocked to the theater in his day to enjoy the fun. I hope a production of this one comes to my town someday, I would love to see it. Very entertaining read, right up there with Earnest.

3.5 stars
This wonderful play with gorgeous lines for Lord Goring would have been a solid four star read, were it not for the last couple of pages where Wilde spoilt it for me. Lord Goring, who in my view is the strongest representative of the author’s voice, fell back into a strongly conventiona...more

An Ideal Husband is an 1895 play by Oscar Wilde, his third most popular work after The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray. In it Wilde explores hypocrisy, corruption, forgiveness and other themes with his trademark epigrammatic humor.

Sir Robert Chiltern, a moral, upstandi...more

I'm going to say this for the millionth time: Oscar Wilde is a freaking genius. Everything he writes is pure gold. I love his sense of humour, and his writing. He was a great man (treated badly by the society in which he lived) and a great writer too. I wish I could let him know that.

This play wa...more

Review to come when I figure out whether or not this is as ragingly sexist as I think it might be.

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