Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde

The category of Classic Play from Books and Chocolate's BACK TO THE CLASSICS CHALLENGE 2015 was the one I was least looking forward to. I hadn’t read a play since high school and I had this idea that plays are meant to be performed and watched and not read in the way one would read a novel. I chose Lady Windermere’s Fan because I had never read any Wilde before, although I have seen the movie version of The Importance of Being Ernest. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with my choice and I enjoyed reading this play very much.

Lady Windermere’s Fan is a dramedy of manners about the Victorian double standard for women regarding infidelity within marriage. I know that Wilde is known for his bon mots and quips and I thought the dialogue in this paly was snappy and delightful. The play opens with the young and very conservative Lady Windermere rebuffing a would be lover Lord Darlington’s flirtatious advances. Later, she is confronted with what she believes to be proof that her husband is having an affair which so addles her and upsets her world view that she actually considers throwing her reputation, her marriage and her child out the window and running off with the besotted Lord Darlington.

I found it interesting that this is the third work from the Victorian era that I have read this year concerning the contradictory views on adultery. The other two works were He Knew He Was Right by Trollope and East Lynne by Ellen Wood and were much more serious in tone, particularly East Lynne. The Wilde play was also much more direct and obvious about pointing out the hypocrisy of the situation. I know that this play has been filmed at least once and I would like to check it out or, better yet, see an actual live stage production someday. I am also interested in reading more from Wilde. I know he wrote a lot, across a lot of mediums, so there is a lot of good stuff for me to delve into when the mood strikes!


  1. I would like to read this--I'm not a huge fan of Portrait of Dorian Grey, but I love Importance of Being Earnest, and would like to be more familiar with Wilde's work.

    1. I think if you love The Importance of Being Earnest, you will also like Lady Windermere's Fan. It isn't funny, but it is sly and satirical.