How Does An Ideal Husband Explore Women 's Roles?

1666 WordsApr 6, 20177 Pages
How does An Ideal Husband explore women’s roles in society? ‘An Ideal Husband’ initially showcases Gertrude’s complacent belief that she and Robert are above any scandal with which Mrs Cheveley is associated. Established from the onset as a paragon of virtue with an “ennobling effect on life”, Wilde laces Gertrude’s moralising tone with dramatic irony throughout the play. As illustrated by her actions at the end of Act 2 where she convinces her husband to withdraw his support of the Suez Canal scheme in what she thinks is an act of salvation but in actuality could cause the downfall of his political career and paradoxically , his relationship with her. Especially as she uses emotional blackmail of separating from him, she fails to see…show more content…
It is also noteworthy that Wilde writes that ”Vandyck would have liked to have painted his head” whereas Mrs Cheveley is described as being ”a work of art”, thus we can conclude that instead of being looked at, as in the case of Mrs Cheveley, Sir Robert Chiltern should be painted, which denotes power and status. Moving on to the introduction of Lord Goring, which is rather short, we almost immediately encounter a comment on his intellect, “he is clever” Furthermore, we learn that “He is fond of being misunderstood. It gives him a post of vantage” which already in getting to know his character gives him an image of superiority. Mrs Cheveley’s character is that of a fallen, dangerous woman. What makes her a threat to male authority is the fact that she transgresses the role she is expected to take as a woman in Victorian society, which was being the perfect ”Angel in the house”. Already in her description, it is made clear that she does not conform to the customary role of Victorian women, as she shows ”the influence of too many schools” as opposed to the traditional good woman. Her ambition and her talent for partaking in the same scheming power games traditionally found in the closed male sphere challenge and pose a threat to the traditionally divided social spheres of male and female, the public and the private. In order to gain access and reputation in the typically male sphere of politics, she has to be
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