In Oscar Wilde's play, “An Ideal Husband” Wilde's touches upon and focuses on many different sorts of themes such as forgiveness and the past and also marriage. Out of all these many different themes that this play explores in society around the time of 1895, the one that stood out to me the most and I found most striking was the theme of Femininity. Throughout the time that this play took place, Femininity was a very uncommon occurrence to experience. However Wilde uses this theme in order to emphasize the dependency of a woman during that time. Wilde starts off by expressing his views on femininity by comparing two of the characters in his play. Both of these women represent two different roles of a woman. Wilde decides to chose Lady Chiltern who is innocent and to be the “standard” of how a woman should act and behave. On the other hand, Wilde chooses Mrs. Cheveley, who is somewhat humorous and she represents the opposite of Lady Chilteren. The women of the play, such as Lady Chiltren and Mrs. Cheveley all fulfill a major part in society of that time, and these Victorian women would also supply and provide a major part in the home life and as well the political sphere. These women were advised to be compliant mothers and wives and even forgivers in the public and more importantly at home.
During the play Lady Chiltern is seen as someone who is upright and honest, someone who is educated and also someone who is encouraging and understanding of her husbands job. She is looked upon as the the “model” woman. Lady Chiltern is a woman in the Victorian era who admires her husband because she thinks his very genuine and honorable. Later on the play, during act five, she also takes the role of a custodian and also a pardoner. In this act Lord Goring mentions to Lady Chiltren and says that “Women are not meant to judge us, but to forgive us when we need forgiveness. Pardon, not punishment, is their mission” (Wilde, Act IV, p. 119 ), which also explains Lady Chiltrens character very well. Lady Chiltern is a very supportive woman of her husband in the private and even the open life. This type of support or love is expressed as feminine.
The other woman who is said to be the opposite of Lady Chiltren is Mrs. Cheveley. In act one she is described as abnormal, immortal, wicked and a mixture of someone who has beauty and at the same time a mastermind. As Wilde mentions her and writes in his play, “Oh! a genius in the day time and a beauty at night!” (Wilde, Act I, p. 13). Act one also uncovers her capability to manipulate and by act three she is officially exposed as evil. Even-though Mrs. Cheveley is depicted as “evil”, however I do believe that she represents a woman's self-determination, because during that time most of the other women were afraid to be self-determined. Mrs. Cheveley is a woman who does this with no sense of problem or fright.
Going back to act three, Lord Goring makes a few comments of the way he feels about the role of women in...