I have this play in one book, together with The Importance of being Earnest and Lady Windermere's fan (or Lady Fandermere's wind, as my drama professor used to say). Logically I expected An ideal husband to be a comedy. And in a way it is, since it ends with one couple´s marriage being strengthened and one couple about to get married. By definition it must be a comedy then. But I suppose it´s more of a ´problem play´, like Shakespeare´s The merchant of Venice or Measure for measure: happy ending but trouble in the middle.
With An ideal husband I didn't mind it. Sometimes Oscar Wilde can be a bit too funny. This time there were also a few silly society ladies and the inevitable charming wit, spewing aphorisms from the top of his head; the nicely named Lord Goring. There was, however, also a plot. A plot involving blackmail of the not so ideal husband Sir Robert Chiltern. Not a highly memorable plot I'm afraid. But as long as Mr. Wilde entertains me along the way I feel I can forgive him. Who needs a plot anyway when you can quote such lines as: "Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfahionable is what other people wear." Or, one more: "Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike."
14 November 2012
Pan Books, 1952
Originally published 1895