Lady Windermeres Fan

Reputation in Lady Windermere’s Fan and A Good Woman

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

My latest reality TV obsession is the adaptly named Love Island, a show that is built on the premise that you must couple up if you want to win the ‘Competition’. Contestants are chosen based on physical attributes, probably a skillfully questioned psych assessment to ensure that you have no or at least questionably morales, taken to exotic locations, thrown onto sets that are designed to lull the gullible to relax, be themselves and forget that they are being videoed 24 hours a day. This video is then cut and edited for my viewing pleasure. I might add I cannot get enough, I love it. The scandal, the who’s doing who and manipulation are for me, addictive. The contestants not phased by a damaged reputation, they thrive on it, willing to twist and contort themselves into whatever is required to be accepted or win. While the dress and context may have changed these themes were much apparent in the Victorian era. Oscar Wilde’s, 1890s play Lady Windermere’s Fan and Mike Barker’s adaptation A Good Woman illustrate in a satirical way, the overzealous preoccupation of Victorians to appear successful, well-mannered, whilst living hedonistic lives behind closed doors.

“If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn’t. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.” (Lady Windermere’s Fan)

Wilde Lady Windermere’s Fan and Barker’s adaption A Good Woman critiques the Victorian era’s obsession with reputation and appearance. Wilde’s satirically written play focuses on reputation, the need for the appearance of social perfection and at times suppressing undesirable aspects of human nature. Wilde’s play mocked the Upper class and the hypocrisy of their double standards a world, he himself struggled to belong and is reflective not only of his own personal struggles with the upper-class and his own identity conflicts. Born to well-off parents, the highly educated Wilde was forced to hide his homosexuality, whilst he did marry and have children, as he notoriety rose so did the gossip about his private life. Much of Wilde’s work centres around the exposure of a secret or indiscretion, as if life was imitating art. Lady Windermere’s Fan central characters Lady Windermere, Lord Windermere and Mrs Erlynne are all conflicted by their own desires and maintaining a standard their peers have set for them. Reputations though, can be easily shattered by any wrongdoing that might change the perception of the person; Mrs Erlynne was shunned from the ‘good’ society for abandoning her husband and daughter to elope with a man. Still, she wants to be back in that circle. She resorts to blackmail and threats to Lord Windermere, for own gain and desire to once again be part of high society. In A Good Woman, we see Mrs Erlynne flee New York to the Amalfi Coast to escape her reputation and try to rebuild herself into a ‘society’ she desperately wishes to belong.

Everyone is responsible for creating their individual reputation through personal traits and behaviors. Therefore, while some individuals may want to uphold the reputation of royalty about family responsibility, others may end up digressing and creating a different history that gives them an individualised reputation in the society. For instance, Lord Windermere in Lady Windermere’s Fan was rumoured to be having an extra marital affair with Mrs Erlynne despite the traditional reputation of royalty being chaste and faithful in marriages and relationships (Wilde, 1892 P. 5). Lord Windermere established his reputation as an unfaithful man and anyone mentioning him would associate him to unfaithfulness. Additionally, the reputation of an individual may further be enhanced and promoted by publicity. Most of the activities and beliefs of influential persons are under the public scrutiny, consequently contributing to their reputation. For example, Lady Windermere in Lady Windermere’s Fan received significant public exposure and her belief in forgiveness and the goodness gave her the reputation of a wise woman.

Secondly, the reputation of a person directly affects his or her life, especially regarding how they are perceived by other people and how they interact with the rest of the community. For instance, a person like Lady Windermere was well known for her unique view on morality and forgiveness as she insisted that bad people are not worthy of any form of forgiveness and should instead be punished for their atrocities (Wilde, 1892 P. 8). The society therefore viewed her as a moral person and people would be careful in the way they interacted with her. In the same way, Mrs. Erlynne had a known history of being scandalous and for gaining money by blackmail. Therefore, everyone in her social community feared interacting with her. For instance, Lady Windermere panicked when it was rumored that her husband was seeing Mrs. Erlynne, immediately thinking Lord Windermere must be the victim of Mrs. Erlynne’s tricks and cunning behavior from her already known reputation (Wilde, 1892 P. 17).

Reputation determines the relationships and associations with other people. While no one wants to associate with people with a bad reputation, preferring to associate ^^^^^ with people with a good reputation. Moreover, those that relate with negatively reputed persons attempt to defend their relationships, When Parker advises Lady Windermere to distract Lord Windermere and take him out of town so that he can revokes association with Mrs. Erlynne (Wilde, 1892 p. 4). Lord Windermere’s association with a woman of such bad reputation would ruin the entire Windermere’s family image in society as they would be perceived to be supporting her scandalous activities. Moreover, Lady Windermere further rejects any association with Mrs. Erlynne despite her husband’s persuasion mainly because of the bad reputation that Mrs. Erlynne held in the society. Lady Windermere also feels defeated for seemingly embracing Mrs. Erlynne at the party (Wilde, 1892. P. 23). Lord Windermere also had a difficult time trying to defend his relationship with Mrs. Erlynne as he tries to convince his wife that she was mistaking their relationship despite getting the cheque book with the secret payment information that Lord Windermere had made to Mrs. Erlynne (Wilde, 1892 P. 11). This scenario was evidence of how people try defending their relationships with those with bad reputations.

It is human nature to try to protect ones reputation, especially when it is good, regardless of the cost. A person that has a bad reputation shall try anything to ensure that they regain a good reputable record while a person that holds good reputation shall do anything to ensure that it is not tainted in any way. Besides, a person that associates with a person of a bad reputation tries to cover it. For example, Mrs. Erlynne is ready to get into contract with Lord Windermere by getting some money from him and an additional party that would welcome her back to the polite society in an attempt to denounce the bad impression that the society had about her as a scandalous con artist (Wilde, 1892 P. 12). She also makes Lord Windermere compromise his reputation in an attempt to cover the fact that she was the mother of Lady Windermere. On the other hand, Lady Windermere distances herself from any associations with eventualities that would ruin her reputation as she tries eloping with Lord Darlington and leave her husband, who was at the verge of destroying his reputation by associating with Mrs. Erlynne (Wilde, 1892. P. 28). Lord Windermere struggles to ensure that he does not fall prey of a bad reputation by denying and attempting to cover for the relationship with Mrs. Erlynne due to her bad reputation in the society.

Lastly, an individual’s reputation does not entirely define the character or beliefs of a person. A person with a bad reputation could uphold the moral standards of a society while the one with a good reputation could be compromising the society’s ethical conduct. For instance, Mrs. Erlynne was perceived as an immoral woman. However, despite her bad reputation, she was considerate enough to agree to keep the secret about her being the mother of Lady Windermere and even hid Lady Windermere from being seen by Lord Windermere and others at Lord Darlington’s rooms (Wilde, 1892 P. 34). If she was the person as bad as her reputation suggested, she would not have compromised on such things. Moreover, despite Lady Windermere having the good reputation, she was also flawed as she was ready to give in to Lord Darlington’s persuasion at the cost of leaving her husband. A woman with praises of wisdom would not be expected to act in the said manner.

In conclusion, reputation is an essential element in the life of any person since everyone minds about how society perceives them. Most people seek the approval of society by having a good reputation consequently having everyone pursuing a good reputation. A Good Woman and Lady Windermere’s Fan uses the character of Mrs. Erlynne as the representative for a bad reputation, who later tries to correct it by asking Lord Windermere to hold a party that would clear her reputation. Lady Windermere and Lord Windermere are the representatives of good reputation since they are among the admired personalities in society. The Windermere’s however struggle to maintain the good reputation since they are tempted to compromise their morality at the advantage of saving Lady Windermere from knowing that Mrs. Erlynne was her mother. To this end, reputation is controversial in the manner it is acquired, maintained, and interpreted.

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Lady Windermere’s Fan Preparation Paper

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

“Lady Windermere’s Fan” Preparation Paper

Script Analysis:

Plot:

Act I:

Inciting Incident: Lord Windermere has invited Mrs. Erlynne to Lady Windermere’s coming-of-age party.

Lady Windermere meets with Lord Darlington on the day of her coming-of-age party. She shows off her new fan to him and explains to him that his constant compliments should cease. The Duchess of Berwick then enters and informs Lady Windermere that Lord Windermere has been visiting a woman behind her back named Mrs. Erlynne. After the Duchess leaves, Lady Windermere finds her husband’s bank book and a second one with a lock on it. She looks in the book with a lock on it and finds transactions between her husband and Mrs. Erlynne. Lord Windermere comes in and she confronts him, and though he doesn’t refute the dealings with Mrs. Erlynne, he does say that he has not betrayed her. He tells her that he has invited Mrs. Erlynne to her party, and she threatens to cause a scene if she comes. He pleads with her to not do this. Lady Windermere leaves, and Lord Windermere reveals in a soliloquy that he’s protecting Mrs. Erlynne’s true identity.

Act II:

Guests arrive to the party and engage in small talk. Lord Windermere confronts Lady Windermere and asks her to speak with him, but she refuses. Lord Augustus begins speaking to Lord Windermere about Mrs. Erlynne, as he is in love with her, and asks him about their relationship. He tells him that he has not had a secret relationship with her and that she is not a mistress, which relieves Augustus because he was wary of her social standing. Mrs. Erlynne then enters the party and is greeted very coldly by Lady Windermere. Lady Windermere begins speaking to Lord Darlington about Mrs. Erlynne, Lord Darlington professes his love for her, and Lady Windermere refuses it. Lord Darlington tells her that they shall never meet again and leaves. In another area of the room, Mrs. Erlynne tells Lord Windermere of her plans to marry Lord Augustus, but tells him that she shall need some money from him. Lady Windermere decides to leave Lord Windermere for Darlington, writes a note for him and leaves. Mrs. Erlynne finds the note and, in a monologue, reveals that she is Lady Windermere’s mother. She leaves to try to bring Lady Windermere back.

Act III:

Lady Windermere is in Lord Darlington’s house and has finally resolved to return to Lord Windermere. Mrs. Erlynne enters to try to convince Lady Windermere to return home to her husband. She sees this as an attempt to manipulate her, refuses to return, but Mrs. Erlynne finally convinces her by bringing up her child at home that she would be abandoning. Before they can leave though, the group of men (including Lord Windermere, Augustus, and Darlington) enters the room, and they hide. They begin talking about Mrs. Erlynne, Lady Windermere’s fan is found in the room, Lord Windermere accuses Lord Darlington of hiding her in his house, and before he discovers her, Mrs. Erlynne reveals herself to the men, letting Lady Windermere leave unnoticed.

Act IV:

The next morning, Lady Windermere is sitting on her couch, anxious to speak with her husband about the events of the night before. Lord Windermere comes in and speaks to her about Mrs. Erlynne, letting her know that he’s genuinely upset with her. Lady Windermere also apologizes for suspecting him of infidelity. Mrs. Erlynne enters with Lady Windermere’s fan and returns it, and informs them that she shall be leaving the country. Before she leaves, she asks Lady Windermere to give her a photo of her and her son. She agrees and leaves the room.

CLIMAX: Mrs. Erlynne forbids Lord Windermere from telling Lady Windermere about her being her mother, ending the blackmail.

DENOUMENT: Lady Windermere returns to the room with the photograph and asks Lord Windermere to leave to see if Mrs. Erlynne’s coach has arrived. Mrs. Erlynne instructs Lady Windermere not to tell her husband about the night before, and she agrees. Lord Windermere enters, followed by Lord Augustus, and Mrs. Erlynne asks him if she can speak with him. They leave momentarily and return to reveal that she has explained herself to Lord Augustus regarding the night before and that they are now engaged and will live in England. Lord and Lady Windermere’s marriage is kept together, but they both keep their secrets from each other.

b. Character:

1. Lady Windermere:

  1. Superobjective:Love
  2. Scene Objectives and Obstacles

Objective 1: Get Mrs. Erlynne to leave her

Internal: If Mrs. Erlynne leaves, she will probably go back to be with Lord Windermere and there will be no option to turn back on this decision.

External: Mrs. Erlynne really wants Lady Windermere to go back with her husband.

Objective 2: Get Mrs. Erlynne to get her out of the house undetected.

Internal: If Mrs. Erlynne does this for her, the men might see her (including her husband), giving them a chance to court her even more.

External: The men are almost in the room

Tactics:

Objective 1:Exclaims that her husband doesn’t care for her, claims that the idea of sending Mrs. Erlynne is insulting, scolds her for reading the letter, attempts to disprove the claim that the burned letter is hers, call her a whore and claim that her husband couldn’t love her if he was willing to leave her for one.

Objective 2: Hides where Mrs. Erlynne tells her to hide and listens to her instructions

Adjectives: Naïve, Self Absorbed, Confused, Stubborn, Caring, Curious

Mrs. Erlynne:
  1. Superobjective: Stability
  2. Scene Objective and Obstacles: To get Lady Windermere to go back to Lord Windermere before it is noticed that she is gone.

Internal: If she goes back and finds herself back in an unhappy, unfulfilling marriage, she will probably resent her more.

External: Lady Windermere is convinced that Mrs. Erlynne is manipulating her.

Tactics: Pleads with her to return, Refutes the idea that Lord Windermere doesn’t love her, burns the letter she wrote, promises to remove her hold on him if she’ll return home, gives her every reason possible to return home, hides her when the men show up

Adjectives:Manipulative, Caring, Maternal, Kind, Intelligent, Ambitious

Language:

1. Style of the Playwright:

Wilde is very often characterized by his wit. The characters he writes tend to be very clever and, because of this, there are many examples of conversations in his plays that can show either a verbal tennis match of wit or a conversation in which characters are constantly adding new elements. Here’s an example of an exchange where the characters’ lines build off of each other from “The Importance of Being Earnest”:

Algernon: I hope to-morrow will be a fine day, Lane.

Lane: It never is, sir.

Algernon: Lane, you’re a perfect pessimist.

Lane: I do my best to give satisfaction, sir.

Though this exchange seems somewhat arbitrary, in it we not only see a build through the lines and the characters working off of the last work, but also some interesting literary contrast between the words “satisfaction” and “perfect” with the word “pessimist”. Another interesting bit showcased in that quote about his language is that his servant characters very rarely speak much, instead giving room to the nobility and the guests of the house to speak (most often because they are the center of the story, but still). Another example of this language being used to a comedic effect can be shown in this segment from “An Ideal Husband”

Lord Caversham: Thank ye. No draught, I hope, in this room?

Lord Goring: No, father.

Lord Caversham: Glad to hear it. Can’t stand draughts. No draughts at home.

Lord Goring: Good many breezes, father.

In this example, it shows how his characters very often use their language and their wit to make themselves the smartest person in the room, and can also be used as a tool to frustrate the other character. However, there are also situations where he uses this wit to showcase a character digging into a situation in an attempt to escalate tension. Here’s an example from “Lady Windermere’s Fan”:

Lord Windermere: Margaret, as far as I have known Mrs. Erlynne-

Lady Windermere: Is there a Mr. Erlynne-or is he a myth?

Lord Windermere: Her husband died many years ago. She is alone in the world.

Lady Windermere: No relations?

Lord Windermere: None.

Lady Windermere: Rather curious, isn’t it?

In this bit, Lady Windermere is constantly looking for clues in Lord Windermere’s language that he uses regarding the mysterious Mrs. Erlynne. She is fully engaged and focused in trying to pry out as much information as she can and to fully prove that he is being unfaithful with her.

In conclusion, Wilde’s use of wit is constant and multi-faceted, whether it be to add some fun wordplay, to add some comedic moments between characters, or to escalate the tension between others. It is a weapon he knows how to use well.

Language of the Scene:

This scene is actually quite unique in the play in terms of language for a couple reasons. The first is that there aren’t nearly as many moments of speedy dialogue between the characters in this scene, the lines are much longer and the characters are consistently explaining their situations and places to the other. The other unique bit about this scene is just how hateful Lady Windermere is toward Mrs. Erlynne and how she rolls with this. Lady Windermere perceives that her life has been ruined by this woman, so she begins insulting her and attacking her from every angle, calling her a liar and a whore in the most brutal ways imaginable. Meanwhile, Mrs. Erlynne, being her mother, is constantly trying to deflate the situation and bring Lady Windermere back to a point of reason and, more importantly, a point where she doesn’t hate her. It becomes painful to watch this woman tear apart a woman that she doesn’t even know that well…and the woman is her mother. This scene is pretty brutal from a language perspective.

Character Specificity:

Lady Windermere:

Lady Windermere tends to be very bull-headed in her pursuit of her goals. She’s up-front with Lord Darlington about his constant compliments, she immediately confronts her husband about Mrs. Erlynne, and she confronts Mrs. Erlynne the moment it is acceptable for her to. However, as demonstrated by that last example, she also feels a need to fit in with society because of her class. Because of this, her language is very frank, but at the same time it isn’t usually as biting as it is in Act III because she’s still trying to fit in with high society.

Mrs. Erlynne:

Outside of this scene, Mrs. Erlynne is incredibly friendly and almost flirtatious with the male characters. However, she never really tries to flatter anybody with her vocabulary. She speaks from the class she came from, without much frills and straight to the point. Yes, she has manipulated people before (whether that be through blackmail or through just flirtatiousness), but there’s a certain frankness to her words that really sings through.

d. Biography and Criticism:

1. Playwright Biography:

Oscar Wilde was a Victorian Era playwright and novelist. He was born and raised in Ireland in the mid-19th century and largely bounced between Ireland and England for a large amount of his life (for example, he studied in Ireland and at Oxford). Wilde was also a homosexual in a time when homosexuality was a criminal offense. Because of this nature of being a societal outcast, the most common goal of his written works was to challenge societal norms. He is most well known for his novel “The Picture of Dorian Grey” (which challenges societal focus on physical beauty) and “The Importance of Being Earnest” (which almost turns high society into parody). However, pieces like “Lady Windermere’s Fan”, “An Ideal Husband”, and “A Woman of No Importance” are all examples of this goal to tear down societal norms (they’re even referred to as the “Comedies of Society” by some). Unfortunately, Wilde’s battle against society went against him when he was tried, convicted, and punished for being a homosexual through imprisonment and exile. This eventually injured and killed him through cerebral meningitis.

Production Criticism:

After reading criticisms of two productions of “Lady Windermere’s Fan” (one performed in Toronto, the other in Austin), it was pointed out that the most effective thing that the directors of each of these productions did was that they showcased how the societal problems in the play are still relevant to this day. I feel that this should be something essential for anybody directing anything by Wilde to understand, given that his plays are all about societal consciousness. There were two issues that critics had with both productions that should be kept in mind. The first of these was consistency in time period; both of them were somewhat period appropriate, but had some inconsistencies. The other issue was that Lady Windermere never seemed to exhibit any growth through the play; she never seemed to get to the point where she realized that many of her prejudices about Mrs. Erlynne and about many societal concepts were wrong.

Idea:

  1. Major Argument:Social Order vs. Social Acceptance
  2. Major Ideas: Infidelity, Social Classes, Prostitution’s Role in Society, Societal Role of Women, Blackmail, Royalty, Social Contracts, What is Polite, Marital Secrecy, Social Labels
  3. Playwright’s Statement:
  4. While some sort of social structure is important, it is also important not to shut people out based on preconceptions due to social class. As Lord Darlington says, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

  5. Scene’s Contribution to Major Argument:

This is the moment in the play in which Lady Windermere begins to realize that she may have judged Mrs. Erlynne too harshly based on preconceived notions that she gained from the Duchess of Berwick. She begins to realize that not only is Mrs. Erlynne not just a whore from the street who is ruining her marriage, but she also begins to realize that she is a genuinely caring person who really wants to help with her situation. It’s where she begins to realize that she was wrong (especially in the moments after the scene in which Mrs. Erlynne sacrifices the public opinion of her to save her).

Dramatic Action:

Scene Conflict: Lady Windermere is willing to leave her husband for cheating on her with an alleged whore. Mrs. Erlynne wants to save her daughter from destroying her life over a complete misconception, but can’t tell her the full truth.

Unit 1: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

From: the top of the scene

To: Mrs. Erlynne: Thank Heaven I am in time.

Story: Lady Windermere debates with herself on whether or not she should return home to her husband, and resolves to return…that is, until Mrs. Erlynne enters.

Unit Climax: Lady Windermere: No, no! I will go back, let Arthur do with me what he pleases.

Unit 2: Please Go Home

From: Mrs. Erlynne: You must go back to your husband’s house immediately.

To: Mrs. Erlynne: He thinks you are asleep in your own room.

Story: Mrs. Erlynne urges Lady Windermere to return home, telling her that she will be making a grave mistake if she doesn’t. Lady Windermere refuses and tells her that he clearly doesn’t love her, especially if he would send her as the messenger to get her to come back home.

Unit Climax: Lady Windermere: I was going to go back-but to stay himself at home and to send you as his messenger-oh! it was infamous-infamous!

Unit 3: Burn Notice

From: Mrs. Erlynne: He never read the mad letter you wrote to him!

To: Mrs. Erlynne: go back, go back to the husband you love.

Story: Mrs. Erlynne reveals to Lady Windermere that her husband never read her note, shows her the note, and burns it in the fire. Lady Windermere castigates Mrs. Erlynne for reading her note, and then refuses to believe that the note that was thrown in the fire was actually hers.

Unit Climax: Mrs. Erlynne: go back, go back to the husband you love.

Unit 4: He Really Does Love you

From: Lady Windermere: I do not love him!

To: Lady Windermere: You are bought and sold.

Story: Lady Windermere begins to bash her husband and Mrs. Erlynne, exclaiming that he couldn’t possibly love her if he was willing to betray her for an unfeeling whore who wants nothing but control over them. Mrs. Erlynne fights against the claims, tries to clarify the nature of her relationship with him as best as she can, and even promises to get rid of the hold she has over him if she will return to him.

Unit Climax: Lady Windermere: You are bought and sold.

Unit 5: Think of Your Child

From: Mrs. Erlynne: Believe what you choose about me.

To: Lady Windermere: Take me home. Take me home.

Story: Mrs. Erlynne finally stops letting Lady Windermere fight her on every point and lectures her on every reason why she needs to take her husband back. Lady Windermere finally concedes that she is right.

Unit Climax and SCENE CLIMAX: Lady Windermere: Take me home. Take me home.

Unit 6: They’re Coming

From: Mrs. Erlynne: Come! Where is your cloak?

To: Mrs. Erlynne: Oh, never mind me. I’ll face them.

Story: As Mrs. Erlynne and Lady Windermere begin to leave Lord Darlington’s house, they hear the men returning from the gentlemen’s club. Mrs. Erlynne hides Lady Windermere in the curtains and readies herself in the other room for if they try to find her. Lady Windermere goes along with it and hides in the curtains.

Unit Climax: Mrs. Erlynne: Oh, never mind me. I’ll face them.

Given Circumstances:

1. Physical Environment: The home of Lord Darlington (living room/parlor area), London, 1890’s, late at night (AM hours)

Other Environments:

Economic:

-Lord and Lady Windermere are wealthy.

-Mrs. Erlynne does not come from wealth.

-Lord Windermere has been giving Mrs. Erlynne money.

-Lord Augustus is wealthy as well.

-Lord Darlington is wealthy.

Social:

-Lady Windermere is royalty through marrying Lord Windermere.

-Mrs. Erlynne isn’t upper class like many of the other central characters.

-Mrs. Erlynne is Lady Windermere’s mother (though this is largely unknown).

-Mrs. Erlynne plans to marry Lord Augustus, which would move her up the social ladder.

-The Lords can still be evicted from clubs, so they don’t have absolute power.

Religious/Moral:

-Marital infidelity is highly frowned upon.

-Prostitution is highly frowned upon.

-Invasion of privacy is socially unacceptable.

-Leaving your husband, even for another Lord, is wrong.

-Lady Windermere states in Act I that she is a Puritan.

Political:

-Lord and Lady Windermere have servants.

-Lord Windermere has control over the house, controls finances.

-Lord Windermere is able to invite whoever he wants to the party, even if his wife doesn’t want them there (like Mrs. Erlynne).

-The threat of socially shaming Lady Windermere gives Mrs. Erlynne power over Lord Windermere.

-Though Lady Windermere can’t remove people from her party, she can make a scene in order to get Lord Windermere to remove them.

Previous Action

-Lord Darlington confessed his love to Lady Windermere.

-Lady Windermere refused him, prompting him to decide to leave her forever.

-Lady Windermere changes her mind because of Mrs. Erlynne.

-Lady Windermere left a note for her husband, telling him that she is leaving him for Lord Darlington.

-Mrs. Erlynne found the note and took it.

-The Duchess of Berwick told Lady Windermere of Lord Windermere’s interactions with Mrs. Erlynne.

-Lady Windermere found her husband’s secret bank book with transactions with Mrs. Erlynne written inside.

-Lady Windermere warned her husband that if Mrs. Erlynne were invited to the party that she would make a scene.

General Facts

-Mrs. Erlynne is Lady Windermere’s mother.

-Lady Windermere doesn’t know that Mrs. Erlynne is her mother.

-Mrs. Erlynne has been blackmailing Lord Windermere with this secret for money.

-Lady Windermere thinks that her mother is dead.

-Lady Windermere has a child with Lord Windermere.

Concept/Vision:

a. My Approach:

Personally, when I look at this scene, I see a woman trying to fight another woman with every prejudice she has in her body only to have them all fail. I see a woman finally having her incredibly structured worldview breaking down. I also see a mother finally trying to have a real relationship with her daughter in which she is trying to save her from making one of the biggest mistakes of her life. So one of them is slowly breaking while the other is slowly building, and I’m going to work to reflect that in the scene through the staging and the design. Though, personally, I feel that costumes will be difficult to get period perfect in this assignment, at this moment I can’t really think of an alternate time period or setting that I would want for this play at this time.

Casting:

Lady Windermere: Rachel McAdams

When I look at Lady Windermere, I see somebody stubborn and frank, but also incredibly strict in the way that she perceives the world around her. However, there is still a great amount of naivety in her; she still doesn’t really know much about the world or how it operates. Based on the film work I’ve seen from her (though it’s not always in the greatest films), I feel like Rachel McAdams could really bring these characteristics to the forefront.

Mrs. Erlynne:Julianne Moore

This is a woman who has been wronged in her life by the man she gave birth to Lady Windermere and was then wronged by society. She really begins blackmailing Lord Windermere to gain her place in society, but also decides that she should build a relationship with her estranged daughter. Though it’s not really a role she’s explored much in her lifetime, she is still a mother. And that role is showing up in her life more and more as Lady Windermere tries to find her place. Julianne Moore is an actress that I feel can show this idea of past demons still haunting you while also showing the maternal side (while realizing that she isn’t quite comfortable with that role, given that she hasn’t filled that role much in her lifetime).

Initial Direction:

Lady Windermere:

Your life has been torn apart by this woman. Not only has your husband been unfaithful to you, he’s also been unfaithful with a woman so far below your social stature. You’re better than this woman, and yet she has won your husband’s heart. She’s also aware that he is married, so she has done this with the knowledge that you are in the picture. It is time for you to leave this environment in a blaze of glory; bring this woman back down to the class she tried to rise up from.

Mrs. Erlynne:

Your blackmailing scheme has gone far enough. Though you’ve finally risen back up in society, you’ve also tremendously hurt your daughter to the point where she’s willing to leave her family behind for another man. This is sort of like what happened in your past with her father and with her, though not exactly. You haven’t been there for much of her life, but you need to keep her from making the biggest mistake of her life; she will likely end up like you if she goes through with this decision.

Design and Rehearsal Preparation:

a. Sets:

I feel like a cold marble feel to everything would really fit the idea that I’m working for. It looks pretty and is also very structured, tidy, and orderly, but at the same time it also feels cold and unfeeling. Given the societal structure in this play and the ideas that Lady Windermere is battling throughout the piece, I feel like this works for the environment.

Costumes:

  1. Lady Windermere
  2. Mrs. Erlynne

Lights:

The scene takes place late at night, but there is still quite a bit of action going on at this late hour. There is also quite a bit of heat between our characters; anger from Lady Windermere, warmth from Mrs. Erlynne, passionate love from Lord Darlington. On top of that, there is also a fire in the room. This captures the idea of warmth at this late hour that I’m looking for. I’m not looking for any lighting changes in this scene though, but something to make the fire in the room to look more real would be nice.

Sound:

Chopin’s Ballad No. 1

The aesthetic of piano ballads is something I would love for this scene, but this one in particular I feel would work the strongest. Its emotional intensity reflects anger at times but also a loving tenderness. There is a great amount of heat and tragedy in this song, but also quite a bit of love at times as well. I feel that it would work perfectly.

e. Groundplan:

f. Rehearsal Plan:
  1. Rehearsal 1: Meet up/Read through
  2. Rehearsal 2: Table work first 3 units
  3. Rehearsal 3: Table work last 3 units
  4. Rehearsal 4: Exercises/Character Exploration
  5. Rehearsal 5: Exercises/Character Exploration
  6. Rehearsal 6: Stage first 2 units
  7. Rehearsal 7: Stage Units 3-4
  8. Rehearsal 8: Stage Units 5-6
  9. Rehearsal 9: Refine scene/try for full run
  10. Rehearsal 10: Refine scene/ full run
  11. Rehearsal 11: Final refinement/full run
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Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde. Play Analysis

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

Lady Windermere’s Fan Analysis

In the except from the 1982 play, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Oscar Wilde reveals the values of his characters, their high regard for reputation, and the insincere, trivial nature of their society through the interactions of the character’s, especially their dialogue.

Despite having different sets of values, each of the characters believes that one’s reputation in society is important. The most aggressive advocate for a good, scandal-free reputation is the duchess of Berwick, who won’t even allow her daughter to be introduced to Lord Darlington for he is, “far too wicked.” The Duchess’ judges those around her harshly because, as a higher-ranking member of society, she feels she has the right to do so and look down upon those whose reputations she does not favor. She tells Lord Darlington and Lady Windermere that the tea she had at Lady Markby’s was “quite undrinkable,” because of its supplier. Had Lady Markby’s son-in-law had a reputation that The Duchess agreed with, the tea might have been acceptable to her but her high regard for wealth and status didn’t allow her to appreciate it.

Lady Windermere, while less concerned about the reputations of others, fears for her own reputation and allows herself to be manipulated and led by The Duchess. When The Duchess laments the downfall of society and the people she tries not to associate with, Lady Windermere immediately agrees and says she will “have no one in [her] house about whom there is any scandal.” She is trying to stay in the good graces of The Duchess in order to climb the social ladder which the character’s hold in such high esteem. She does not value originality or leadership, instead allowing herself to become a follower for the sake of her reputation.

Lord Darlington’s, whose values are much farther off from The Duchess and Lady Windermere’s, also values his reputation though it is not as spotless as those of the women. He doesn’t mind being called wicked or scandalous because he knows that behind his back there are many who say he’s “never really done anything wrong in the whole course of [his] life.” While on the surface his reputation isn’t clean, the true nature of his character is apparent to those who know him. If he was truly a wicked, failure of a man, there’s no way The Duchess would allow Lady Windermere to have him at her party. However, the stipulation to being invited to the party is that he not say “foolish, insincere things to people.” Lady Windermere doesn’t want to tarnish her own standing by having Lord Darlington share his true opinions.

The society in which the characters exist is one of insincere and trivial nature, only caring about appearances and parties. There is very little substance to the conversation and when Lord Darlington tries to introduce a topic of importance, “the game of marriage,” the women deem him trivial. He seems to be the only intellect and when mentioning the meaning of life and its importance, saying “life is fat too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.” The Duchess of Berwick can’t even understand him. Lord Darlington acknowledges that intelligence is not valued in society and won’t explain his sentence to The Duchess because, “to be intelligible is to be found out.”

The insincerity of society is evidenced by The Duchess of Berwick talking behind the backs of those she associates with. The goes to Lady Windermere to gossip about Lady Markby. Although she’s controlling who Lady Windermere invites to her party, The Duchess herself allows even “the most dreadful people” to attend her parties. She is hypocritical of those around her and looks down on everyone but she does nothing to change the status of society. Even Lord Darlington takes notice of how disingenuous society has become, as shown through his comment on marriage. He compares marriage to a card game instead of something genuine and fair.

Through this play, Oscar Wilde shows the true nature and the values, as well as the lack of values, in society through the dialogue of three characters.

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The Cleverness and Wisdom of Women in Oscar Wilde’s Writing (Salome and Lady Windermere’s Fan)

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

A Woman’s Wisdom

Cleverness and wisdom has always worked hand in hand, especially during the times of aristocratic England. However, it was mostly only men who were able to learn the arts of philosophy and speak their minds on it without being discarded, while the women, in most cases, were just put to the side when it came to such matters. Wilde criticizes this patriarchal practice using both the characters and symbols in Salome and Lady Windermere’s Fan, by showing that women can be just as clever, or even more wise, than their male counterparts.

Within Salome, references to the moon are spoken throughout the story, mostly in direct reference to Salome herself, which both the guys and girls have their own thoughts on. Amongst the men, they mostly admire the moon according to their person. For Herod, he calls the moon “a mad woman who is seeking everywhere for lovers” and “reels through the clouds like a drunken woman” (311). But the Young Syrian does not talk about the moon specifically, but directly about Salome, saying she’s “like a princess who has little white doves for feet” (301) and “like the shadow of a white rose” (302). However, the women speak about the moon in a completely different light. They call the moon “is like the moon, that is all” (312), a dangerous omen of death and tragedy, “cold and chaste. I am sure she is a virgin” (304), and someone looking for dead things to collect. To me this could represent that while the men are too moonstruck over the mere beauty of Salome, the women see through the appearance and know the dangerous intentions and well-knowing mind that Salome has.

One of the characters who talks the most about the moon is The Page of Herodias. She constantly warns the Young Syrian about looking at Salome for too long, saying that it’ll cause something horrible to happen, knowing how deceiving Salome is, especially with the Young Syrian’s obsession with her. Even when Salome is in the room with these two, The Page of Herodias warns of the moon searching for something to cover itself, most likely referencing Salome’s influence on her brother. Yet when the Young Syrian kills himself, she doesn’t blame Salome for her cruel trickery, but instead she blames herself for not being able to protect him, saying “if I had hidden him in a cavern she would not have seen him” (310). To me, it seems to me that one of the reasons she blames herself is not solely on the fact that she didn’t protect him from Salome, but because she assumed that he would know well enough not to be so entranced by Salome’s appearance and sweet words, but with the Young Syrian’s death proving her incorrect in that assumption, that also feels responsible because she didn’t help him learn that appearances can hide a deadly mind.

Salome and her mother could be considered the most dangerous as well as the most clever characters in this play. Salome uses her beauty and the lust that men have for her to get them to do what she wants, one of the more notable victims of her is the Young Syrian. Though the guards constantly tell Salome that no one is allowed to see Iokanaan, she uses Syrian’s infatuation to speak to the guards in her stead, promising him that she would “fall for thee a flower, a little green flower” (306), which I believe to be an innuendo for a special night between the two. Later on, when we meet Herod and Herodias, Herod asks Salome to dance for her, offering to grant a request of hers. When both Herodias and Salome deny Herod the dance, playing on both his ego and his lust for Salome, Herod swears to all of those there that he will grant anything Salome wants. Once Salome agrees and dances for Herod, she requests the head of Iokanaan, to the joy of her mother, and Herod reluctantly agrees to the request, bringing the head for Salome and her mother’s own ulterior motives.

But if Salome is so clever, how did she descend into her mad attraction towards Iokanaan? Well, some might say that wisdom can eventually lead to madness, like in many dark tales. But I don’t think madness is too involved in this, but rather it’s her getting a bit too curious and overwhelmed by the appearance of Iokanaan. Much like when an archeologist or a scientist makes a brand new discovery, they want to know everything about it, to fully understand it. However it is very strange that each time Iokanaan refuses to let Salome touch one part of his body, she immediately goes to one after the other, until she finally settles for his lips. This is probably because the other pieces of Iokanaan’s body she lists off, he refutes her by saying that it’ll corrupt those parts with her evilness. But when Salome mentions the lips, he does not say that they’ll be corrupted, but just tells her to back away. I think that because Iokanaan did not say to her that it will corrupt him, it’s the thing she wanted to experience the most, so that she could still touch him and still keep him pure.

Mrs. Erlynne could be considered a character of deception, not revealing who she really is to Lord Windermere through most of the play, tricking him out of a lot of money under her false name, and never mentioning her real name to Lord Augustus as well. However, unlike the characters in Salome, the deceptions that Erlynne commits don’t have too much malicious intent behind them. At the party she gets along with a lot of people, despite most of the aristocratic women loathing her because she became friends with a lot of gentlemen in London. She seems to hold herself in very high regard, perhaps using the mannerisms she had before she was abandoned to try to make friends with the other partygoers. Even at the party she mostly talks to the men at the party, trying to use her new name as a means to get remarried much faster than if she still used her old name. But when she’s eventually caught in her lies by Lord Windermere, she admits that she was deceiving everyone, especially him, out of money to help rebuild her life. Even with Lord Windermere’s harsh words towards Mrs. Erlynne, she never tries to completely undermine him, but simply speaks her own mind and recalls thoughts of after she abandoned her daughter, that “for twenty years, as you say, I have lived childless, — I want to live childless still” (382). She even tries to convince Lord Windermere to not tell his wife the truth about her identity, threatening to degrade her name even more than she had already, out of the love of her daughter. Using her wisdom to deceive people is more of just trying to get a second chance with her life, trying to atone to herself the mistakes she made, abandoning her own child after she herself was abandoned by the one she loved, and to have a real loving life after having her old name shunned by the majority of society.

Margaret’s fan could be a symbol of her ever-growing wisdom throughout the story. At first Lady Windermere seems a bit naïve, taking things too seriously and being very cut and dry when discussing with Lord Darlington. She almost seems to be living in her own fairy tale when she speaks about life, calling it “a sacrament. Its ideal is Love. Its purification is sacrifice” (336), and gets very defensive when others disagree on her stand points. Then when she first talk with Berwick, Lady Windermere starts to believe all of the assumptions and gossip that Berwick tells her. However, once she runs away to Lord Darlington’s house we get a turning point on how Margaret acts. Mrs. Erlynne talks with Lady Windermere to try and convince her that what she thought about Lord Windermere and Erlynne is wrong, but Margaret denies all that she says, finding any reason to distrust her, believing in what only she thinks to be true. But as Erlynne pleads to Margaret to not throw her life away just because of her, and explains why Lord Windermere and her kept their friendship as long as it has. That’s when Margaret started to mature and gain more wisdom, not from any teaching or philosophical books, but Lady Windermere learned from not only her mistake, but the mistakes of her mother. The scene that really sets this in is in the beginning of the fourth act, when Lady Windermere first wakes up. She monologues to herself about the events last night and realizes that there’s “a bitter irony in the way we talk of good and bad women” and that “Words are perhaps the worst. Words are merciless” (376), showing that even the most tragic of times can bring about strong wisdom, especially from people we may not expect to have it.

But couldn’t Lady Windermere just be worried about the relationship with her husband instead of her being furious at Mrs. Erlynne because she lacks the wisdom to see through Berwick’s gossip? To me, not only because she seeks out her husband’s checkbook on the recommendation of Berwick, but the reaction she has once it’s revealed that Lord Windermere is giving money to Erlynne is childish. She is constantly telling her husband that she doesn’t want Mrs. Erlynne at her party, but each time she is denied by Lord Windermere, she gets increasingly upset to the point of threatening to hit her with the fan her husband gave her. Even after her encounter with Lord Darlington, she writes a letter to her husband and runs away from her home to Darlington’s house, the equivalent of a child stomping to their room and slamming the door.

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Importance of a woman in marriage

October 23, 2020 by Essay Writer

“It’s a curious thing, Duchess, about the game of marriage – a game, by the way, that is going out of fashion – the wives hold all the honours, and invariably lose the odd trick”.

The play ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ by Oscar Wilde presents a window into the minds and manners of the upper-class Victorian society of London. He satirizes the hypocrisy which underlies the day-to-day behaviour of the so-called aristocrats, and wittily mocks at their shallow morals and beliefs, especially those pertaining to marriage. In Victorian society, women were treated as the ‘weaker vessel’ that had to be cared and provided for by men, first her father and then her husband. However, Wilde shows us how different characters hold different views towards marriage. The men treat it like a game and talk about it in a trivial manner. For example, in the above dialogue by Lord Darlington in the first Act, Darlington calls marriage a game, and later on refers to the ‘modern husband’ as the ‘odd trick’ which the wives lose though they hold ‘all the honours’. His comment is mirrored by Cecil Graham’s dialogue in the next act: “By the way Tuppy, which is it? Have you been twice married and once divorced, or twice divorced and once married? I say you’ve been twice divorced and once married. It seems so much more probable”. The fact that neither Lord Augustus nor Tuppy can remember the facts shows how inconsequential he considers marriage and divorce to be.

Wilde provides us an insight into all aspects of marriage. The first step is the courting period or the period of young love. Lady Agatha Carlisle has reached marriageable age and her mother the Duchess of Berwick is highly intent on making a good match for her. She wishes to ensnare Mr. Hopper, the son of a rich Australian business entrepreneur, and someone whom she describes as a person whom “people are taking such notice of just at present”. This shows that for the Duchess of Berwick, Mr. Hopper’s social fame and status is just as important if not more as his financial position. She says, “I think he’s attracted by dear Agatha’s clever talk”. The readers, however, know that Agatha is a shy, docile, obedient and soft-spoken girl, and says little else apart from, “Yes, mamma”. In Act II, the duchess tries to pass off Agatha as a lucrative wife by exaggerating about her capabilities and trying to make her look clever, “Mind you take great care of my little chatterbox, Mr. Hopper” and “Agatha has found it on the map”. She manipulates circumstances in order to allow the young man to propose, “You have kept those five dances for him, Agatha?” and “The last two dances you might pass on the terrace with Mr. Hopper”.

By the end of the same act she accomplishes her mission, and now starts scheming in order to prevent the couple from moving to Australia, “I think on the whole that Grosvenor Square would be a healthier place to reside. There are lots of vulgar people live in Grosvenor Square, but at any rate there are no horrid kangaroos crawling about”, though previously she had pretended to be fascinated by the place: “It must be so pretty with all the dear little kangaroos flying about”. She mentions her success to Lady Windermere: “Love – well not love at first sight, but love at the end of the season, which is so much more satisfactory”.

The next stage in marriage is the marriage of early years, like that of Margaret Windermere and Arthur Windermere. They have been happily married for two years, have produced an heir and keep no secrets from each other. Their love is so strong and potent that Lady Windermere finds it hard to believe that her husband could ever be unfaithful to her, when the Duchess of Berwick informs her as ‘a well-wisher’ about her husband’s supposed affair with the notorious Mrs. Erlynne, “Duchess, Duchess it is impossible! We are only married two years. Our child is but six months old”. Their marriage is unusual in an era when most men and women married for better economic or social prospects than any real love. However, by the end of the play their marriage has changed. They are now keeping secrets from each other in order to stabilise their relationship.

An example of marriage in later years is that of the Duchess of Berwick. She has no illusions in life and knows perfectly well that her husband is a Don Juan: “Before the year was out, he running after all kinds of petticoats, every colour, every shape, every material”. She does not take his aberrations seriously because he believes this to be normal for men. She answers Lady Windermere’s query as to whether all men are bad: “Oh, all of them, my dear, all of them, without any exception”. Thus the readers learn that in Victorian society, a man had a legal wife who managed his household and produced legal heirs, and also a so-called woman friend. But this is not unexpected, and the husband always returns to his wife, “slightly damaged, of course”. Wives in turn nag and chivvy them from time to time, “just to remind them that we have a perfectly legal right to do so”.

The last type of marriage is that of a marriage of bondage, like that of Mrs. Erlynne. Mrs. Erlynne is an infamous woman with not one past, but “at least a dozen, and that they are all fit”. She is seductive and blatantly flirts with all men in order to show her superiority to them. Very little is told about Mrs. Erlynne’s past. The audience only knows that Mrs. Erlynne is a divorced woman who twenty years ago eloped with her lover, leaving her infant daughter and husband. We don’t know how she survived for all these years but it is probable that she used men like Lord Augustus to provide money for her. But Wilde bows to Victorian morality and prudery, and keeps this aspect of her life veiled. Lord Windermere calls Mrs. Erlynne “a divorced woman, going about under an assumed name, a bad woman preying upon life”. In reality, Mrs. Erlynne is an independent and wilful woman who, finding herself trapped in a loveless shell of a marriage, revolted as any man would do – she had an affair. The only difference was that she was not a man and her act only earns her ignominy and disrepute in the British society. Here Wilde criticises the rigid laws of Victorian morality which allows men to have affairs, but not women. A fact which is revealed by the duchess of Berwick in the first Act, “Oh, men don’t matter. With women it is different”. We can see that while Lady Windermere objects to Mrs. Erlynne’s presence in her ball and though she states, “I will have no one in my house about whom there is any scandal”, she willingly invites the proclaimed dandy Lord Darlington and the divorced man Lord Augustus. Thus, despite her many ideals Lady Windermere too does not hesitate in differentiating between men and women. At the end of the play, Mrs. Erlynne resolves to marry again in order to regain her position in society. However, she intends to marry Lord Augustus, a submissive man whom she can dominate and thus control her marriage, as she wants to. She says, “I’ll make him an admirable wife, as wives go”.

Lady Plymdale highlights the scepticism of society towards happy married couples when she says, “It’s most dangerous nowadays for a husband to pay any attention to his wife in public. It always makes people think that he beats her when they are alone. The world has grown so suspicious of anything that looks like a happy married life”. Marriages are not supposed to be happy and based on love, but hypocrisy. Her own husband has lately become attentive and this irks her. She asks Dumby to take her husband to Mrs. Erlynne’s place for lunch, as she wants him to be enraptured by her charms, dance attendance on her, and not bother his wife. She says, “I assure you, women of that kind are most useful. They form the basis of other people’s marriages”. So, in Lady Plymdale’s experience all marriages have a third party along with them.

Lord Darlington says in the third act, “Awfully commercial, women nowadays. Our grandmothers threw their caps over the mills, of course, but, by Jove, their granddaughters only throw their caps over mills that can raise the wind for them”. This shows that most women in Victorian society only married for money and better economic prospects. In Act II, the Duchess of Berwick tells Agatha, “No nice girl should ever waltz with such particularly younger sons! It looks so fast!” While it is true that waltz was considered ‘fast’ in Victorian society, the Duchess wouldn’t mind if her daughter waltzed with elder sons who stand to inherit their father’s fortune. Even men are not exempt from such behaviour. Lord Augustus is anxious to know that whether Mrs. Erlynne “will ever get back into this demmed thing called Society?” He is worried because he wants to marry her and she has no relations. He says, “Demmed nuisance, relations! But they make one so demmed respectable”. When he is told that she has received a card to the ball held in the respectable house of the Windermeres’, his heart is put to rest, and he immediately starts proposing to her. Mrs. Erlynne too wants Lord Windermere to give her some money which she would pretend was left to her by a third cousin or a second husband, in order to have an additional attraction.

Society’s restriction on the movement of women is shown in this theme, as when Lady Windermere is afraid to leave her failed marriage because of society’s censure and the world’s tongue. She says, “I am afraid of being myself” probably because before this she never had the opportunity of making her own decision. It was either her father or her aunt Lady Julia or her husband who has made all the decisions in her life, and she meekly obeyed them. The end reference to red and white roses symbolise the passion of Mrs. Erlynne and the childlike innocence of Lady Windermere – virtues of the good woman and ideal wife.

‘Lady Windemere’s Fan’ provides a window into Victorian society and Wilde skillfully satirizes its shallow hypocrisy and outdated views on marriage.

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Depiction of Marriage in ‘Lady Windemere’s Fan’

May 16, 2019 by Essay Writer

“It’s a curious thing, Duchess, about the game of marriage – a game, by the way, that is going out of fashion – the wives hold all the honours, and invariably lose the odd trick”.The play ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ by Oscar Wilde presents a window into the minds and manners of the upper-class Victorian society of London. He satirizes the hypocrisy which underlies the day-to-day behaviour of the so-called aristocrats, and wittily mocks at their shallow morals and beliefs, especially those pertaining to marriage. In Victorian society, women were treated as the ‘weaker vessel’ that had to be cared and provided for by men, first her father and then her husband. However, Wilde shows us how different characters hold different views towards marriage. The men treat it like a game and talk about it in a trivial manner. For example, in the above dialogue by Lord Darlington in the first Act, Darlington calls marriage a game, and later on refers to the ‘modern husband’ as the ‘odd trick’ which the wives lose though they hold ‘all the honours’. His comment is mirrored by Cecil Graham’s dialogue in the next act: “By the way Tuppy, which is it? Have you been twice married and once divorced, or twice divorced and once married? I say you’ve been twice divorced and once married. It seems so much more probable”. The fact that neither Lord Augustus nor Tuppy can remember the facts shows how inconsequential he considers marriage and divorce to be. Wilde provides us an insight into all aspects of marriage. The first step is the courting period or the period of young love. Lady Agatha Carlisle has reached marriageable age and her mother the Duchess of Berwick is highly intent on making a good match for her. She wishes to ensnare Mr. Hopper, the son of a rich Australian business entrepreneur, and someone whom she describes as a person whom “people are taking such notice of just at present”. This shows that for the Duchess of Berwick, Mr. Hopper’s social fame and status is just as important if not more as his financial position. She says, “I think he’s attracted by dear Agatha’s clever talk”. The readers, however, know that Agatha is a shy, docile, obedient and soft-spoken girl, and says little else apart from, “Yes, mamma”. In Act II, the duchess tries to pass off Agatha as a lucrative wife by exaggerating about her capabilities and trying to make her look clever, “Mind you take great care of my little chatterbox, Mr. Hopper” and “Agatha has found it on the map”. She manipulates circumstances in order to allow the young man to propose, “You have kept those five dances for him, Agatha?” and “The last two dances you might pass on the terrace with Mr. Hopper”. By the end of the same act she accomplishes her mission, and now starts scheming in order to prevent the couple from moving to Australia, “I think on the whole that Grosvenor Square would be a healthier place to reside. There are lots of vulgar people live in Grosvenor Square, but at any rate there are no horrid kangaroos crawling about”, though previously she had pretended to be fascinated by the place: “It must be so pretty with all the dear little kangaroos flying about”. She mentions her success to Lady Windermere: “Love – well not love at first sight, but love at the end of the season, which is so much more satisfactory”. The next stage in marriage is the marriage of early years, like that of Margaret Windermere and Arthur Windermere. They have been happily married for two years, have produced an heir and keep no secrets from each other. Their love is so strong and potent that Lady Windermere finds it hard to believe that her husband could ever be unfaithful to her, when the Duchess of Berwick informs her as ‘a well-wisher’ about her husband’s supposed affair with the notorious Mrs. Erlynne, “Duchess, Duchess it is impossible! We are only married two years. Our child is but six months old”. Their marriage is unusual in an era when most men and women married for better economic or social prospects than any real love. However, by the end of the play their marriage has changed. They are now keeping secrets from each other in order to stabilise their relationship. An example of marriage in later years is that of the Duchess of Berwick. She has no illusions in life and knows perfectly well that her husband is a Don Juan: “Before the year was out, he running after all kinds of petticoats, every colour, every shape, every material”. She does not take his aberrations seriously because he believes this to be normal for men. She answers Lady Windermere’s query as to whether all men are bad: “Oh, all of them, my dear, all of them, without any exception”. Thus the readers learn that in Victorian society, a man had a legal wife who managed his household and produced legal heirs, and also a so-called woman friend. But this is not unexpected, and the husband always returns to his wife, “slightly damaged, of course”. Wives in turn nag and chivvy them from time to time, “just to remind them that we have a perfectly legal right to do so”. The last type of marriage is that of a marriage of bondage, like that of Mrs. Erlynne. Mrs. Erlynne is an infamous woman with not one past, but “at least a dozen, and that they are all fit”. She is seductive and blatantly flirts with all men in order to show her superiority to them. Very little is told about Mrs. Erlynne’s past. The audience only knows that Mrs. Erlynne is a divorced woman who twenty years ago eloped with her lover, leaving her infant daughter and husband. We don’t know how she survived for all these years but it is probable that she used men like Lord Augustus to provide money for her. But Wilde bows to Victorian morality and prudery, and keeps this aspect of her life veiled. Lord Windermere calls Mrs. Erlynne “a divorced woman, going about under an assumed name, a bad woman preying upon life”. In reality, Mrs. Erlynne is an independent and wilful woman who, finding herself trapped in a loveless shell of a marriage, revolted as any man would do – she had an affair. The only difference was that she was not a man and her act only earns her ignominy and disrepute in the British society. Here Wilde criticises the rigid laws of Victorian morality which allows men to have affairs, but not women. A fact which is revealed by the duchess of Berwick in the first Act, “Oh, men don’t matter. With women it is different”. We can see that while Lady Windermere objects to Mrs. Erlynne’s presence in her ball and though she states, “I will have no one in my house about whom there is any scandal”, she willingly invites the proclaimed dandy Lord Darlington and the divorced man Lord Augustus. Thus, despite her many ideals Lady Windermere too does not hesitate in differentiating between men and women. At the end of the play, Mrs. Erlynne resolves to marry again in order to regain her position in society. However, she intends to marry Lord Augustus, a submissive man whom she can dominate and thus control her marriage, as she wants to. She says, “I’ll make him an admirable wife, as wives go”.Lady Plymdale highlights the scepticism of society towards happy married couples when she says, “It’s most dangerous nowadays for a husband to pay any attention to his wife in public. It always makes people think that he beats her when they are alone. The world has grown so suspicious of anything that looks like a happy married life”. Marriages are not supposed to be happy and based on love, but hypocrisy. Her own husband has lately become attentive and this irks her. She asks Dumby to take her husband to Mrs. Erlynne’s place for lunch, as she wants him to be enraptured by her charms, dance attendance on her, and not bother his wife. She says, “I assure you, women of that kind are most useful. They form the basis of other people’s marriages”. So, in Lady Plymdale’s experience all marriages have a third party along with them. Lord Darlington says in the third act, “Awfully commercial, women nowadays. Our grandmothers threw their caps over the mills, of course, but, by Jove, their granddaughters only throw their caps over mills that can raise the wind for them”. This shows that most women in Victorian society only married for money and better economic prospects. In Act II, the Duchess of Berwick tells Agatha, “No nice girl should ever waltz with such particularly younger sons! It looks so fast!” While it is true that waltz was considered ‘fast’ in Victorian society, the Duchess wouldn’t mind if her daughter waltzed with elder sons who stand to inherit their father’s fortune. Even men are not exempt from such behaviour. Lord Augustus is anxious to know that whether Mrs. Erlynne “will ever get back into this demmed thing called Society?” He is worried because he wants to marry her and she has no relations. He says, “Demmed nuisance, relations! But they make one so demmed respectable”. When he is told that she has received a card to the ball held in the respectable house of the Windermeres’, his heart is put to rest, and he immediately starts proposing to her. Mrs. Erlynne too wants Lord Windermere to give her some money which she would pretend was left to her by a third cousin or a second husband, in order to have an additional attraction. Society’s restriction on the movement of women is shown in this theme, as when Lady Windermere is afraid to leave her failed marriage because of society’s censure and the world’s tongue. She says, “I am afraid of being myself” probably because before this she never had the opportunity of making her own decision. It was either her father or her aunt Lady Julia or her husband who has made all the decisions in her life, and she meekly obeyed them. The end reference to red and white roses symbolise the passion of Mrs. Erlynne and the childlike innocence of Lady Windermere – virtues of the good woman and ideal wife.‘Lady Windemere’s Fan’ provides a window into Victorian society and Wilde skillfully satirizes its shallow hypocrisy and outdated views on marriage.

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