An Ideal Husband
by Oscar Wilde
An Ideal Husband Memory and the Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue.
LORD GORING. Perhaps Mrs. Cheveley's past is merely a slightly DECOLLETE one, and they are excessively popular nowadays. (2.96)
Lord Goring reminds Sir Robert that Mrs. Cheveley might not be as susceptible to scandal as he is. As Lady Markby says elsewhere, it probably enhances her charms.
MRS. CHEVELEY. [With a sneer.] Oh, there is only one real tragedy in a woman's life. The fact that her past is always her lover, and her future invariably her husband. (3.253)
This quote is a brainteaser from Mrs. Cheveley. Does she mean that the past is romantic but erratic, the future steadfast but dull? That the best times are behind her? How would you interpret this quote?
SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. I wish I had seen that one sin of my youth burning to ashes. (4.170)
Sir Robert is referring to the old letter to Baron Arnheim. Would Mrs. Cheveley have been as powerful without this material piece of evidence? There's an interesting contrast between the past that truly existed and the past that's recorded – then later interpreted as reality.