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How is the role of love dealt with in "An Ideal Husband"?

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´╗┐What is the role of love in ?An Ideal Husband? by Oscar Wilde? An Ideal Husband revolves around many themes, none more important than love. The whole play is the result of the diversity of love and its different viewpoints. Wilde deals with many of these viewpoints through his characters. Sir Robert?s selfless, unconditional love; Lady Chiltern?s love of an ideal, perfect, morally upright husband; Lord Goring?s love of life, his complete love for Mabel Chiltern and his past love for Mrs. Cheveley; and Mrs. Cheveley?s love for money and political and social standing. Each love differs from the other, though each creates an impact in the lives of the character and the course of the play. Sir Robert?s love is one which is strong and can bear the test of time, selfless and unconditional. His love is predicated on the idea of human imperfection and he accepts Lady Chiltern for her faults. According to him, love is a healing force, one that can heal any wound, pardon any sins, except any against itself, and make life infinitely better, as he states in his melodramatic speech at the end of the second act. ...read more.


LADY CHILTERN: ?Robert, love gives one an instinct to things. I feel tonight that I have saved you from something that might have been a danger to you.? On the other hand, her love can also be very nurturing and motherly at times, where one can often find her adopting a ?I know best? attitude, thus imposing upon and controlling Sir Robert like a puppet, through the power of her love. Luckily, for the Chilterns, Lord Goring saves their marriage, by making Lady Chiltern realize that her rigidity and hart-hearted nature was the cause, how she needed to ease up with Sir Robert, and shim the true love she felt for him. Her love transitions from a cold love for an imaginary idea to a warm love for a real man, whom she accepted despite his faults and shortcomings. Lord Goring is the dandy of the play, full of love for life, living life to its fullest. This is quite obvious by how he lives his in an amusing and sometimes trivial manner, worrying about button-holes. ...read more.


From the very beginning, we can see that Mrs. Cheveley is focused on acquiring wealth through the fraudulous Argentine Canal Scheme, at the expense of Sir Robert. For Mrs. Cheveley, everything plays second fiddle to wealth. Her relationship with Baron Arnheim proved to be quite profitable. She has been seen to attach herself to men with a high social standing and great wealth, like the Baron, Lord Goring and her two previous husbands. However, there is a solitary moment where she confesses her love for Lord Goring. Though it is hard to tell whether her feelings are genuine or just another plot, it is certain that she does have a trace of feeling for Goring. MRS CHEVELEY: ?I loved you, Arthur.? Mrs. Cheveley prefers to love material entities more than the human ones. Her love of scandal, money and social fame suggests that. As does her lack of compassion, and steely demeanor when dealing with Sir Robert. Each of the main characters exhibits a different kind of love, some attributes match, while some differ greatly. However, this play still revolves around love in its various forms; thus playing an important and thematic role in the play. ...read more.

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