«LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN by Oscar Wilde THE PERSONS OF THE PLAY Lord Windermere Lord Darlington Lord Augustus Lorton Mr. Dumby Mr. Cecil Graham Mr. ...»
LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
THE PERSONS OF THE PLAY
Lord Augustus Lorton
Mr. Cecil Graham
The Duchess of Berwick
Lady Agatha Carlisle
THE SCENES OF THE PLAYACT 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. Morning-room in Lord Windermere's house.
TIME: 1892 PLACE: London The action of the play takes place within twenty-four hours, beginning on a Tuesday afternoon at five o'clock, and ending the next day at 1:30 p.m.
FIRST ACTSCENE: 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.
PARKERIs your ladyship at home this afternoon?
PARKERLord Darlington, my lady.
LADY WINDERMERE(hesitates for a moment) Show him up –– and I'm at home to any one who calls.
PARKERYes, my lady.
LADY WINDERMEREIt's best for me to see him before to-night. I'm glad he's come.
Enter PARKER C.
LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN I-2
PARKERLord Darlington, Enter LORD DARLINGTON C.
LORD DARLINGTONHow do you do, Lady Windermere?
LADY WINDERMEREHow 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 DARLINGTONThey are quite perfect.
(Sees a fan lying on the table) And what a wonderful fan! May I look at it?
LADY WINDERMEREDo. 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 DARLINGTONNo? Is it really?
LADY WINDERMEREYes, I'm of age to-day. Quite an important day in my life, isn't it? That is why I am giving this party tonight. 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.
LADY WINDERMERELord Darlington, you annoyed me last night at the Foreign Office. I am afraid you are going to annoy me again.
Enter PARKER and FOOTMAN C, with tray and tea things.
LADY WINDERMEREPut 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?
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.
LADY WINDERMERE(gravely) I hope not. I should be sorry to have to quarrel with you, Lord Darlington. I like you very much, you know that. But I shouldn't like you at all if I thought you were what most other men are. Believe me, you are better than most other men, and I sometimes think you pretend to be worse.
LORD DARLINGTON(still seated LC) Oh, nowadays so many conceited people go about Society pretending to be good, that I think it shows rather a sweet and modest disposition to pretend to be bad. Besides, there is this to be said. If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn't. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.
LORD DARLINGTONNo, not the world. Who are the people the world takes seriously? All the dull people one can think of, from the Bishops down to the bores. I should like YOU to take me very seriously, Lady Windermere, YOU more than any one else in life.
LORD DARLINGTON(after a slight hesitation) Because I think we might be great friends. Let us be great friends. You may want a friend some day.
LADY WINDERMEREI think we're very good friends already, Lord Darlington. We can always remain so as long as you don't ––
LADY WINDERMERE (cont'd) the Puritan in me. I was brought up like that. I am glad of it. My mother died when I was a mere child. I lived always with Lady Julia, my father's elder sister, you know. She was stern to me, but she taught me what the world is forgetting, the difference that there is between what is right and what is wrong. SHE allowed of no compromise. I allow of none.
LADY WINDERMEREYes. Nowadays people seem to look on life as a speculation.
It is not a speculation. It is a sacrament. Its ideal is Love. Its purification is sacrifice.
LORD DARLINGTON(still seated) Do you think then –– of course I am only putting an imaginary instance –– do you think that in the case of a young married couple, say about two years married, if the husband suddenly becomes the intimate friend of a woman of –– well, more than doubtful character –– is always calling upon her, lunching with her, and probably paying her bills –– do you think that the wife should not console herself?
LORD DARLINGTONDo you know I am afraid that good people do a great deal of harm in this world. Certainly the greatest harm they do is that they make badness of such extraordinary importance. It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious. I take the side of the charming, and you, Lady Windermere, can't help belonging to them.
LORD DARLINGTONWell then, setting aside mercenary people, who, of course, are dreadful, do you think seriously that women who have committed what the world calls a fault should never be forgiven?
DUCHESS OF BERWICK(coming down C, and shaking hands) Dear Margaret, I am so pleased to see you. You remember Agatha, don't you?
(Crossing LC) How do you do, Lord Darlington? I won't let you know my daughter, you are far too wicked.
LORD DARLINGTONDon't say that, Duchess. As a wicked man I am a complete failure. Why, there are lots of people who say I have never really done anything wrong in the whole course of my life. Of course they only say it behind my back.
DUCHESS OF BERWICKIsn't he dreadful? Agatha, this is Lord Darlington. Mind you don't believe a word he says.
(LORD DARLINGTON crosses RC) No, no tea, thank you, dear.
(Crosses and sits on sofa) We have just had tea at Lady Markby's. Such bad tea, too. It was quite undrinkable. I wasn't at all surprised. Her own sonin-law supplies it. Agatha is looking forward so much to your ball to-night, dear Margaret.
DUCHESS OF BERWICK(on sofa L) Of course it's going to be select. But we know THAT, dear Margaret, about YOUR house. It is really one of the few houses in London where I can take Agatha, and where I feel perfectly secure about dear Berwick. I don't know what society is coming to. The most dreadful people seem to go everywhere. They certainly come to my parties –– the men get quite furious if one doesn't ask them. Really, some one should make a stand against it.
DUCHESS OF BERWICKOh, men don't matter. With women it is different. We're good.
Some of us are, at least. But we are positively getting elbowed into the corner. Our husbands would really forget our existence if we didn't nag at them from time to time, just to remind them that we have a perfect legal right to do so.
LORD DARLINGTONIt's a curious thing, Duchess, about the game of marriage –– a game, by the way, that is going out of fashion –– the wives hold all the honours, and invariably lose the odd trick.
DUCHESS OF BERWICKWhat does he mean? Do, as a concession to my poor wits, Lord Darlington, just explain to me what you really mean.
LORD DARLINGTON(coming down back of table) I think I had better not, Duchess. Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out. Good-bye!
(Shakes hands with DUCHESS) And now –– (goes up stage)
-- Lady Windermere, good-bye. I may come to-night, mayn't I?
Do let me come.
LADY WINDERMERE(standing up stage with LORD DARLINGTON) Yes, certainly. But you are not to say foolish, insincere things to people.
DUCHESS OF BERWICK(who has risen, goes C) What a charming, wicked creature! I like him so much. I'm quite delighted he's gone! How sweet you're looking! Where DO you get your gowns? And now I must tell you how sorry I am for you, dear Margaret.
(Crosses to sofa and sits with LADY WINDERMERE) Agatha, darling!
DUCHESS OF BERWICKDear girl! She is so fond of photographs of Switzerland. Such a pure taste, I think. But I really am so sorry for you, Margaret
DUCHESS OF BERWICKOh, on account of that horrid woman. She dresses so well, too, which makes it much worse, sets such a dreadful example.
Augustus –– you know my disreputable brother –– such a trial to us all –– well, Augustus is completely infatuated about her. It is quite scandalous, for she is absolutely inadmissible into society. Many a woman has a past, but I am told that she has at least a dozen, and that they all fit.
DUCHESS OF BERWICKSweet girl! So devoted to sunsets! Shows such refinement of feeling, does it not? After all, there is nothing like Nature, is there?
DUCHESS OF BERWICKDon't you really know? I assure you we're all so distressed about it. Only last night at dear Lady Jansen's every one was saying how extraordinary it was that, of all men in London, Windermere should behave in such a way.
DUCHESS OF BERWICKAh, what indeed, dear? That is the point. He goes to see her continually, and stops for hours at a time, and while he is there she is not at home to any one. Not that many ladies call on her, dear, but she has a great many disreputable men friends –– my own brother particularly, as I told you –– and that is what makes it so dreadful about Windermere. We looked upon HIM as being such a model husband, but I am afraid there is no doubt about it. My dear nieces –– you know the Saville girls, don't you? –– such nice domestic creatures –– plain, dreadfully plain, but so good –– well, they're always at the window doing fancy work, and making ugly things for the poor, which I think so useful of them in these dreadful socialistic days, and this terrible woman has taken a house in Curzon Street, right opposite them –– such a respectable street, too! I don't know what we're coming to! And they tell me that Windermere goes there four and five times a week –– they SEE him. They can't help it –– and although they never talk scandal, they –– well, of course –– they remark on it to every one. And the worst of it all is that I have been told that this woman has got a great deal of money out of somebody, for it seems that she came to London six months ago without anything at all to speak of, and now she has this charming house in Mayfair, drives her ponies in the Park every afternoon and all –– well, all –– since she has known poor dear Windermere.
LADY WINDERMEREOh, I can't believe it!
LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN I-13