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An Ideal Husband

An Ideal Husband

by Oscar Wilde

Harold

Character Analysis

Harold seems to be the least important servant in the play, but his scene actually does give us two pieces of interesting detail. Here is Harold's one glorious line:

HAROLD. What name, madam?
MRS. CHEVELEY. [To PHIPPS, who advances towards her.] Is Lord Goring not here? I was told he was at home?
PHIPPS. His lordship is engaged at present with Lord Caversham, madam.
[Turns a cold, glassy eye on HAROLD, who at once retires.]
(3.86-89)

The two details are these: 1) Mrs. Cheveley avoids giving her name, so she's able to surprise Lord Goring and mess with Sir Robert's head. And 2) Phipps's "cold, glassy stare" – all it takes to make Harold disappear – gives us a little peek into the culture of the servants' world. Just like the upper classes of Victorian society, servants obeyed strict rules about who was the boss of whom.

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