Lady Windermeres Fan

By Oscar Wilde, 1892
Lady Windermeres Fan

Summary

Lady Windermere suspects her husband of having an affair with another woman; Mrs Erlynne.  

By way of revenge, Lady Windermere leaves her husband for another lover.  

While attempting to convince Lady Windermere to return to her husband, Mrs Erlynne is found in a compromising position and she sacrifices herself and her reputation to save Lady Windermere's marriage.

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Excerpt

FIRST ACT



SCENCE

Morning-room of Lord Windermere's house in Carlton House Terrace.  Doors C. and R.  Bureau with books and papers R.  Sofa with small tea-table L.  Window opening on to terrace L.  Table R.

 

[LADY WINDERMERE is at table R., arranging roses in a blue bowl.]

[Enter PARKER.]

PARKER.  Is your ladyship at home this afternoon?

LADY WINDERMERE.  Yes - who has called?

PARKER.  Lord Darlington, my lady.

LADY WINDERMERE.  [Hesitates for a moment.]  Show him up - and I'm at home to any one who calls.

PARKER.  Yes, my lady.

[Exit C.]

LADY WINDERMERE.  It's best for me to see him before to-night.  I'm glad he's come.

[Enter PARKER C.]

PARKER.  Lord Darlington,

[Enter LORD DARLINGTON C.]

[Exit PARKER.]

LORD DARLINGTON.  How do you do, Lady Windermere?

LADY WINDERMERE.  How do you do, Lord Darlington?  No, I can't shake hands with you.  My hands are all wet with these roses.  Aren't they lovely?  They came up from Selby this morning.

LORD DARLINGTON.  They are quite perfect.  [Sees a fan lying on the table.]  And what a wonderful fan!  May I look at it?

LADY WINDERMERE.  Do.  Pretty, isn't it!  It's got my name on it, and everything.  I have only just seen it myself.  It's my husband's birthday present to me.  You know to-day is my birthday?

LORD DARLINGTON.  No?  Is it really?

LADY WINDERMERE.  Yes, I'm of age to-day.  Quite an important day in my life, isn't it?  That is why I am giving this party to-night.  Do sit down.  [Still arranging flowers.]

LORD DARLINGTON.  [Sitting down.]  I wish I had known it was your birthday, Lady Windermere.  I would have covered the whole street in front of your house with flowers for you to walk on.  They are made for you.  [A short pause.]

LADY WINDERMERE.  Lord Darlington, you annoyed me last night at the Foreign Office.  I am afraid you are going to annoy me again.

LORD DARLINGTON.  I, Lady Windermere?

[Enter PARKER and FOOTMAN C., with tray and tea things.]

LADY WINDERMERE.  Put it there, Parker.  That will do.  [Wipes her hands with her pocket-handkerchief, goes to tea-table, and sits down.]  Won't you come over, Lord Darlington?

[Exit PARKER C.]

LORD DARLINGTON.  [Takes chair and goes across L.C.]  I am quite miserable, Lady Windermere.  You must tell me what I did.  [Sits down at table L.]

LADY WINDERMERE.  Well, you kept paying me elaborate compliments the whole evening.

LORD DARLINGTON.  [Smiling.]  Ah, nowadays we are all of us so hard up, that the only pleasant things to pay are compliments.  They're the only things we can pay.

LADY WINDERMERE.  [Shaking her head.]  No, I am talking very seriously.  You mustn't laugh, I am quite serious.  I don't like compliments, and I don't see why a man should think he is pleasing a woman enormously when he says to her a whole heap of things that he doesn't mean.