An Ideal Husband
by Oscar Wilde
An Ideal Husband Respect and Reputation 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.
LADY CHILTERN. I know that there are men with horrible secrets in their lives - men who have done some shameful thing, and who in some critical moment have to pay for it, by doing some other act of shame - oh! don't tell me you are such as they are! (1.370)
Lady Chiltern is as self-deluding, as we all are, to some extent. We think: "Oh, that sort of thing happens to other people, but not to me." It's clear that she had been thinking this all along, until she was forced to deal with a difficult situation. Experiencing the crisis in her own home humanizes her.
SIR ROBERT: And now what is there before me but public disgrace, ruin, terrible shame, the mockery of the world, a lonely dishonored life, a lonely dishonored death, it may be, some day? (2.311)
Sir Robert fears public humiliation almost as much as he fears losing his wife's love.
LORD CAVERSHAM. [Opens THE TIMES.] 'Sir Robert Chiltern . . . most rising of our young statesmen . . . Brilliant orator . . . Unblemished career . . . Well-known integrity of character . . . Represents what is best in English public life . . . Noble contrast to the lax morality so common among foreign politicians.' (4.31)
Part of us applauds Sir Robert's narrow escape, part of us wanted him to be caught – and then redeemed.