Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
The snake-shaped diamond brooch/bracelet serves as a symbol of marriage and relationships, though its meanings and uses change throughout the play. It first turns up as a conversation piece between Mabel, who's found it, and Lord Goring, who recognizes it from the past. He makes her promise not to tell anyone he has it – a promise that could be seen as a precursor to their later engagement vows. The brooch emerges as a pretense for Mrs. Cheveley to visit Lady Chiltern and observe the progress of her demolition job on the Chiltern marriage. It finally serves as a trap for Mrs. Cheveley. Her confession of losing it at the party is also a confession of theft, as Lord Goring had given it as a wedding gift long ago. Lord Goring, always resourceful and often secretive, reveals the hidden properties of the bracelet as he cuffs Mrs. Cheveley into submission.