Lady Windermere's Fan - Oscar Wilde

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Lady Windermere's Fan - Oscar Wilde

This four act play revolves around a good woman. This comedy is a satire on Victorian culture and marriage. Lady Windermere is afraid her husband is h...

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Review of "Lady Windermere's Fan - Oscar Wilde"

published 05/06/2009 | oldchem
Member since : 30/05/2009
Reviews : 410
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Pro A wonderful comedy with all the wit of Wilde.
Cons Rather outdated now
very helpful
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"I said 'Lady' not 'Lake'"

Women have a wonderful instinct about things. They can discover everything
except the obvious.Oscar Wilde_

Lady Windermere's Fan

If you read any of my other book reviews you would find it hard to believe that I have studied English Literature upto A level standard ( even obtaining a grade A) as I do read an awful lot of easy reading books, chick-lit etc., but every now and then I do dig out the odd classic to re-read.

I have always liked Oscar WIlde's plays finding them very humerous.


Born Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) he was Irish playwright, poet . He also wroye a lot of short stories and one novel, and is most famous ( in the literary world) for his humour. Below are some of his famous quotes:

  1. America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up.
  2. The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself.
  3. Work is the curse of the drinking classes.
  4. I love acting. It is so much more real than life.
  5. A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.

Wilde became the most successful Victorian playwright and a hugh celebrity of his day.

On 29 May 1884 he married Constance Lloyd and they had two sons - Cyril (1885) and Vyvyan (1886). It is thoiught that it was the year after his wedding that Wilde became aware of his homosexuality.

As the result of his well publicised series of trials Wilde was convicted of "gross indecency" with other men.He was imprisoned for two years hard labour, first in Pentonville and then in Wandsworth prison in London, and finally transferred in November to Reading Prison. He was known as prisoner C. 3.3, (which described the fact that he was in block C, floor three, cell three) he was not, at first, even allowed paper and pen.After he was released from prison he sailed to France. He never returned to Ireland or Britain and Constance took the surname Holland for herself and the boys.


The plays written by Oscar Wilde and the dates of first performance were:
  • Vera or The Nihilists (1880)
  • The Duchess of Padua (1883)
  • Salomé (French version) (1893, first performed in Paris 1896)
  • Lady Windermere's Fan (1892)
  • A Woman of No Importance (1893)
  • Salomé: A Tragedy in One Act: Translated from the French of Oscar Wilde by Lord Alfred Douglas
  • An Ideal Husband (1895)
  • The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)
  • La Sainte Courtisane and A Florentine Tragedy Fragmentary. First published 1908 in Methuen's Collected Works

Lady Windermere's Fan, A Play About a Good Woman - is a four act satirical comedy about the morals of Victorian society, especially marriage.

The action of the play takes place within a 24 hour period, beginning on a Tuesday afternoon at five o'clock, and ending the next day at 1.30 p.m.

The play was an instant success when it was produced in London at St. James Theatre on February 20, 1892.

.The plot is set by a series of misunderstandings and deceptions in the better off classes of Victorian London.

In the play, Lady Windermere considers leaving her husband of two years when , because of her eavesdropping, she is convinced of her husband’s infidelity.

Although the play is now obviously very dated it is still a very popular play.


Lord Windermere
Lord Darlington
Lord Augustus Lorton
Mr. Dumby
Mr. Cecil Graham
Mr. Hopper
Parker, Butler
Lady Windermere
The Duchess of Berwick
Lady Agatha Carlisle
Lady Plymdale
Lady Stutfield
Lady Jedburgh
Mrs. Cowper-Cowper
Mrs. Erlynne
Rosalie, Maid


ACT I. Morning-room in Lord Windermere's house.
ACT II. Drawing-room in Lord Windermere's house.
ACT III. Lord Darlington's rooms.
ACT IV. Same as Act I.

TIME: 1892
PLACE: London.

There are two major theme's in the play - hypocricy and the 'bad mother'.
Most of the characters in this play accept hypocrisy as being necessary part if their life in their social whirl. As when Dumby agrees with Mrs. Stutfield that the season has been ‘‘delightful,’’ and then straight away agrees with the Duchess of Berwick that it has been ‘‘dreadfully dull.’’

With regards to the 'bad mother' theme, you have to remember that the play was written at a time when the Suffragette movement was in it's prime. In Victorian society women who wanted to "leave home" were often portrayed as evil, and taking the 'male role' in society. The "bad mother" is Erlynne in the play, as she leaves to pursue her own life.Oscar Wilde supported the feminist movement, he even edited a magazine called The Woman's world, which published articles on each side of the suffrage issue.

The plot is about Lady Winderemere who goes from being the epitomy of Victorian society lady to a woman of wandering morals. She is pulled up by the very woman who pulls her up is the one she suspected of being her husband's mistress ( in here lies the twist).

t's a comedy of society manners and morals with melodramatics from Lady Windermere, a captivating and surprising plot and some wonderful quips, in the great Oscar Wilde tradition.
Example: "Well, there's nothing in the world like the devotion of a married woman. It's a thing no married man knows anything about."

Don't be put of with the age or setting of the play or the social aspect. It is still applicable to our society today -although we judge now with less criticism and more understanding.

A funny and witty masterpiece

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Comments on this review

  • Timi_Hendrix published 16/09/2009
    Good review. Can't wait to read it.
  • obscuredbykep published 18/06/2009
    Good review!
  • morticiaaddams published 06/06/2009
    Oh lovely, well reviewed! I'm an Oscar Wilde fanatic! I will come back with an E!
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Product Information : Lady Windermere's Fan - Oscar Wilde

Manufacturer's product description

This four act play revolves around a good woman. This comedy is a satire on Victorian culture and marriage. Lady Windermere is afraid her husband is having an affair. His reaction when she confronts him is to invite the other woman to her birthday celebration. When Lady Windermere leaves her husband for a lover the other women sacrifices herself to help save the marriage. So in reality who is the good woman?

Product Details

Type: Play

Title: Lady Windermere's Fan

Author: Oscar Wilde

ISBN: 1419129120; 1604242922


Listed on Ciao since: 14/03/2003