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Lady Windermere's Fan


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AT:(A Play About) a Good WomanA: Oscar Wilde Pf: 1892, London Pb: 1893 G: Drama in 4 acts S: Lord Windermere's House and Lord Darlington's rooms, London, 1892 C: 7m, 9fLady Windermere is 21 today, and her seemingly devoted husband has given her a fan for her birthday. She reproaches Lord Darlington for courting her, but is dismayed to learn that her husband is known to be associating with a Mrs Erlynne, to whom he gives regular sums of money. Worse still, Windermere insists that Mrs Erlynne should attend the birthday party. Lady Windermere, humiliated by her presence, leaves the party to go to Darlington's rooms, leaving her husband a note. It is now revealed that Mrs Erlynne is Lady Windermere's mother. She left her husband and daughter to run away with a lover who then abandoned her. She threatens to reveal herself to Lady Windermere, if Windermere does not finance her return to society. Finding Lady Windermere's note, her mother rushes to Darlington's rooms to prevent a repetition of her own mistake. Hiding her from the men coming from the party, Mrs Erlynne persuades her daughter to return home and say nothing about her attempt at unfaithfulness. When Lady Windermere's new fan is discovered, Mrs Erlynne comes out of hiding, pretending that she took it by mistake. The next morning Windermere, sneering at Mrs Erlynne's presence in Darlington's rooms, no longer feels threatened by her, and she promises never to reveal her identity to her daughter. She prepares to go abroad with her elderly suitor.

AT:(A Play About) a Good WomanA: Oscar Wilde Pf: 1892, London Pb: 1893 G: Drama in 4 acts S: Lord Windermere's House and Lord Darlington's rooms, London, 1892 C: 7m, 9f

In this, Wilde's first London success, he treats a favourite Victorian theme, that of the ‘fallen woman’. Even more than in The Second Mrs Tanqueray and Mrs Dane's Defence, Wilde is sympathetic towards her situation (she is the ‘Good Woman’ of the subtitle and original title). Despite its wit and realistic contemporary setting, the piece has not yet wholly removed itself from conventional sentimentality to carry the mark of Wilde's brilliantly cynical observation of society.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Oscar Wilde (1854—1900) writer


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