Study Guide

An Ideal Husband Politics

By Oscar Wilde


Politics serve a number of purposes in An Ideal Husband. They start the show with a party, lend weight to the protagonist's crisis, and give occasion for many, many witticisms. The public nature of work in politics gives the protagonist higher stakes. To paraphrase the villainess: scandals don't just hurt a politician, they crush him. Pitted against the equally high-stakes game of love, politics lend an exciting background to this comedy with dashes of potboiler.

Questions About Politics

  1. Are the politicians in An Ideal Husband interested in the common good? Or are their efforts focused on raising their status?
  2. Do you think that success in public life and happiness in private life mutually exclusive?
  3. Why does Lady Chiltern so quickly request that Sir Robert leave public life? Are political success and moral wholeness mutually exclusive?

Chew on This

The transition of settings in An Ideal Husband – from political party to a private morning room – underscores the play's investigation of public and private morality.

An Ideal Husband argues that love is more important than politics.