Independent Reading Analysis
SECTION ONE: Background Info
An Ideal Husband – Oscar Wilde
Historical period: Victorian Era
Protagonist: Sir Robert Chiltern is a well-liked politician that becomes blackmailed by Laura Cheveley by an insider trading scandal involving the Suez Canal.
Antagonist: Mrs. Laura Cheveley blackmails Sir Robert into supporting a scheme to build an Argentinian canal.
Plot Summary: During a fancy dinner party at the Chiltern’s, Mrs. Cheveley tries to blackmail Robert Chiltern with an insider trading scandal for supporting a fraudulent Argentinian canal scheme. After rejecting her offer, Mrs. Cheveley reveals Chiltern’s indiscretion to his wife, who in turn scorns him and refuses to forgive him. Robert’s friend Lord Goring was apparently previously engaged to Mrs. Cheveley. Lady Chiltern sends a pink note to Goring, pleading for his help with her husband, but Cheveley sees it and is convinced it is a love note. Robert, after finding Cheveley in Goring’s drawing room is convinced she and Goring are rekindling their old courtship and storms out. Cheveley then attempts to blackmail Goring into marrying her in exchange for her forgetting about the scandal with Robert. Goring refuses and then binds Mrs. Cheveley with a diamond brooch she apparently stole from his cousin many years ago. He says that he will not have her arrested if she hands over the incriminating letter. In the end, Lord and Lady Chiltern reconcile and Lord Goring marries Robert’s sister Mabel.
1. Marriage – Oscar Wilde continuously mocks many of the conventional traits of marriage in this upper-class Victorian society such as loyalty, honesty, and even love itself. Lady Chiltern’s love and loyalty to her husband is constantly tested throughout the play as she deals with the aftermath of discovering his Suez secret.
2. Aestheticism – A popular movement during the Victorian period that Wilde himself was extremely fond of, aestheticism is...