Lady Windermere’s Fan

Contents:
Author: Oscar Wilde  | Date: 1892

FIRST ACT

SCENE- 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.]

PAR. Is your ladyship at home this afternoon?

LADY WIN. Yes- who has called?

PAR. Lord Darlington, my lady.

LADY WIN. [Hesitates for a moment.] Show him up- and I’m at home to

any one who calls.

PAR. Yes, my lady. [Exit C.]

LADY WIN. It’s best for me to see him before to-night. I’m glad

he’s come.

[Enter Parker C.]

PAR. Lord Darlington.

[Enter Lord Darlington C.] [Exit Parker.]

LORD DAR. How do you do, Lady Windermere?

LADY WIN. 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 DAR. They are quite perfect. [Sees a fan lying on the table.]

And what a wonderful fan! May I look at it?

LADY WIN. 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 DAR. No? Is it really?

LADY WIN. 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 DAR. [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 WIN. Lord Darlington, you annoyed me last night at the Foreign

Office. I am afraid you are going to annoy me again.

LORD DAR. I, Lady Windermere?

[Enter Parker and Footman C. with tray and tea-things.]

LADY WIN. Put it there, Parker. That will do. [Wipes her hands with

her pocket-handkerchief, goes to tea-table L. and sits down.]

Won’t you come over, Lord Darlington? [Exit Parker C.]

LORD DAR. [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 WIN. Well, you kept paying me elaborate compliments the whole

evening.

LORD DAR. [Smiling.] Ah, now-a-days 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 WIN. [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.

LORD DAR. Ah, but I did mean them. [Takes tea which she offers him.]

LADY WIN. [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 DAR. We all have our little vanities, Lady Windermere.

LADY WIN. Why do you make that your special one? [Still seated at

table L.]

LORD DAR. [Still seated L. C.] Oh, now-a-days 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.

LADY WIN. Don’t you want * the world to take you seriously then,

Lord Darlington?

* In DOS versions italicized text is enclosed in chevrons .

LORD DAR. No, 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.

LADY WIN. Why- why me?

LORD DAR. [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 WIN. Why do you say that?

LORD DAR. Oh!- we all want friends at times.

LADY WIN. I think we’re very good friends already, Lord Darlington.

We can always remain so as long as you don’t-

LORD DAR. Don’t what?

LADY WIN. Don’t spoil it by saying extravagant silly things to me.

You think I am a Puritan, I suppose? Well, I have something of

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 eldest 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/p>

allowed of no compromise. I allow of none.

LORD DAR. My dear Lady Windermere!

LADY WIN. [Leaning back on the sofa.] You look on me as being

behind the age. Well, I am! I should be sorry to be on the same

level as an age like this.

LORD DAR. You think the age very bad?

LADY WIN. Yes. Now-a-days 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 DAR. [Smiling.] Oh, anything is better than being sacrificed!

LADY WIN. [Leaning forward.] Don’t say that.

LORD DAR. I do say it. I feel it- I know it.

[Enter Parker C.]

PAR. The men want to know if they are to put the carpets on the

terrace for to-night, my lady?

LADY WIN. You don’t think it will rain, Lord Darlington, do you?

LORD DAR. I won’t hear of its raining on your birthday!

LADY WIN. Tell them to do it at once, Parker. [Exit Parker C.]

LORD DAR. [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?

LADY WIN. [Frowning.] Console herself?

LORD DAR. Yes, I think she should- I think she has the right.

LADY WIN. Because the husband is vile- should the wife be vile

also?

LORD DAR. Vileness is a terrible word, Lady Windermere.

LADY WIN. It is a terrible thing, Lord Darlington.

LORD DAR. Do 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.

LADY WIN. Now, Lord Darlington. [Rising and crossing R., front of

him.] Don’t stir, I am merely going to finish my flowers. [Goes

to table R. C.]

LORD DAR. [Rising and moving chair.] And I must say I think you are

very hard on modern life, Lady Windermere. Of course there is

much against it, I admit. Most women, for instance, now-a-days,

are rather mercenary.

LADY WIN. Don’t talk about such people.

LORD DAR. Well then, setting mercenary people aside, who, of

course, are dreadful, do you think seriously that women who have

committed what the world calls a fault should never be forgiven?

LADY WIN. [Standing at table.] I think they should never be

forgiven.

LORD DAR. And men? Do you think that there should be the same laws

for men as there are for women?

LADY WIN. Certainly!

LORD DAR. I think life too complex a thing to be settled by these

hard and fast rules.

LADY WIN. If we had "these hard and fast rules," we should find

life much more simple.

LORD DAR. You allow of no exceptions?

LADY WIN. None!

LORD DAR. Ah, what a fascinating Puritan you are, Lady Windermere!

LADY WIN. The adjective was unnecessary, Lord Darlington.

LORD DAR. I couldn’t help it. I can resist everything except

temptation.

LADY WIN. You have the modern affectation of weakness.

LORD DAR. [Looking at her.] It’s only an affectation, Lady

Windermere. [Enter Parker C.]

PAR. The Duchess of Berwick and Lady Agatha Carlisle.

[Enter the Duchess of Berwick and Lady Agatha Carlisle C.]

[Exit Parker C.]

DUCH. [Coming down C., and shaking hands.] Dear Margaret, I am so

pleased to see you. You remember Agatha, don’t you? [Crossing

L. C.] How do you do, Lord Darlington? I won’t let you know my

daughter, you are far too wicked.

LORD DAR. Don’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.

DUCH. Isn’t he dreadful? Agatha, this is Lord Darlington. Mind you

don’t believe a word he says. [Lord Darlington crosses R. C.]

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 son-in-law

supplies it. Agatha is looking forward so much to your ball

to-night, dear Margaret.

LADY WIN. [Seated L. C.] Oh, you mustn’t think it is going to be a

ball, Duchess. It is only a dance in honour of my birthday. A

small and early.

LORD DAR. [Standing L. C.] Very small, very early, and very select,

Duchess.

DUCH. [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 poor 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.

LADY WIN. I will, Duchess. I will have no one in my house about

whom there is any scandal.

LORD DAR. [R. C.] Oh, don’t say that, Lady Windermere. I should

never be admitted! [Sitting.]

DUCH. Oh, 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 DAR. It’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.

DUCH. The odd trick? Is that the husband, Lord Darlington?

LORD DAR. It would be rather a good name for the modern husband.

DUCH. Dear Lord Darlington, how thoroughly depraved you are!

LADY WIN. Lord Darlington is trivial.

LORD DAR. Ah, don’t say that, Lady Windermere.

LADY WIN. Why do you talk so trivially about life, then?

LORD DAR. Because I think that life is far too important a thing

ever to talk seriously about it. [Moves up C.]

DUCH. What does he mean? Do, as a concession to my poor wits, Lord

Darlington, just explain to me what you really mean?

LORD DAR. [Coming down back of table.] I think I had better not,

Duchess. Now-a-days 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 WIN. [Standing up stage with Lord Darlington.] Yes, certainly.

But you are not to say foolish insincere things to people.

LORD DAR. [Smiling.] Ah! you are beginning to reform me. It is a

dangerous thing to reform any one, Lady Windermere.

[Bows, and exit C.]

DUCH. [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!

LADY AGA. Yes mama. [Rises.]

DUCH. Will you go and look over the photograph album that I see

there?

LADY AGA. Yes, mama. [Goes to table L.]

DUCH. Dear girl! She is so fond of photographs of Switzerland. Such

a pure, taste, I think. But I really am so sorry for you,

Margaret.

LADY WIN. [Smiling.] Why, Duchess?

DUCH. Oh, 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 inadmissable into

society. Many a woman has a past, but I am told that she has at

least a dozen, and that they all fit.

LADY WIN. Whom are you talking about, Duchess?

DUCH. About Mrs. Erlynne.

LADY WIN. Mrs. Erlynne? I never heard of her, Duchess. And what has

she to do with me?

DUCH. My poor child! Agatha, darling!

LADY AGA. Yes, mama.

DUCH. Will you go out on the terrace and look at the sunset?

LADY AGA. Yes, mama. [Exit through window L.]

DUCH. Sweet girl! So devoted to sunsets! Shows such refinement of

feeling, does it not? After all, there is nothing like nature,

is there?

LADY WIN. But what is it, Duchess? Why do you talk to me about this

person?

DUCH. Don’t you really know? I assure you we’re all so distressed

about it. Only last night at dear Lady Fansen’s every one was

saying how extraordinary it was that, of all men in London,

Windermere should behave in such a way.

LADY WIN. My husband- what has he got to do with any woman of that

kind?

DUCH. Ah, 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 in particular, 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 pony in the Park every afternoon, and all- well all-

since she has known poor dear Windermere.

LADY WIN. Oh, I can’t believe it!

DUCH. But it’s quite true, my dear. The whole of London knows it.

That is why I felt it was better to come and talk to you, and

advise you to take Windermere away at once to Homburg or to Aix,

where he’ll have something to amuse him, and where you can watch

him all day long. I assure you, my dear, that on several

occasions after I was first married I had to pretend to be very

ill, and was obliged to drink the most unpleasant mineral

waters, merely to get Berwick out of town. He was so extremely

susceptible. Though I am bound to say he never gave away any

large sums of money to anybody. He is far too high-principled

for that.

LADY WIN. [Interrupting.] Duchess, Duchess, it’s impossible!

[Rising and crossing stage C.] We are only married two years.

Our child is but six months old. [Sits in chair R. of L. table.]

DUCH. Ah, the dear pretty baby! How is the little darling? Is it a

boy or a girl? I hope a girl- Ah, no, I remember it’s a boy! I’m

so sorry. Boys are so wicked. My boy is excessively immoral. You

wouldn’t believe at what hours he comes home. And he’s only left

Oxford a few months- I really don’t know what they teach them

there.

LADY WIN. Are all men bad?

DUCH. Oh, all of them, my dear, all of them, without any exception.

And they never grow any better. Men become old, but they never

become good.

LADY WIN. Windermere and I married for love.

DUCH. Yes, we begin like that. It was only Berwick’s brutal and

incessant threats of suicide that made me accept him at all, and

before the year was out he was running after all kinds of

petticoats, every colour, every shape, every material. In fact,

before the honeymoon was over, I caught him winking at my maid,

a most pretty, respectable girl. I dismissed her at once without

a character. No, I remember I passed her on to my sister; poor

dear Sir George is so short-sighted, I thought it wouldn’t

matter. But it did, though it was most unfortunate. [Rises.] And

now, my dear child, I must go, as we are dining out. And mind

you don’t take this little aberration of Windermere’s too much

to heart. Just take him abroad, and he’ll come back to you all

right.

LADY WIN. Come back to me? [C.]

DUCH. [L. C.] Yes, dear, these wicked women get our husbands away

from us, but they always come back, slightly damaged, of course.

And don’t make scenes, men hate them!

LADY WIN. It is very kind of you, Duchess, to come and tell me all

this. But I can’t believe that my husband is untrue to me.

DUCH. Pretty child! I was like that once. Now I know that all men

are monsters. [Lady Windermere rings bell.] The only thing to do

is to feed the wretches well. A good cook does wonders, and that

I know you have. My dear, Margaret, you are not going to cry?

LADY WIN. You needn’t be afraid, Duchess, I never cry.

DUCH. That’s quite right, dear. Crying is the refuge of plain

women, but the ruin of pretty ones. Agatha, darling!

LADY AGA. [Entering L.] Yes, mama. [Stands back of table L. C.]

DUCH. Come and bid good-bye to Lady Windermere, and thank her for

your charming visit. [Coming down again.] And by the way, I must

thank you for sending a card to Mr. Hopper- he’s that rich young

Australian people are taking such notice of just at present. His

father made a great fortune by selling some kind of food in

circular tins- most palatable, I believe- I fancy it is the

thing the servants always refuse to eat. But the son is quite

interesting. I think he’s attracted by dear Agatha’s clever

talk. Of course, we should be very sorry to lose her, but I

think that a mother who doesn’t part with a daughter every

season has no real affection. We’re coming to-night, dear.

[Parker opens C. doors.] And remember my advice, take the poor

fellow out of town at once, it is the only thing to do.

Good-bye, once more; come, Agatha.

[Exeunt Duchess and Lady Agatha C.]

LADY WIN. How horrible! I understand now what Lord Darlington meant

by the imaginary instance of the couple not two years married.

Oh! it can’t be true- she spoke of enormous sums of money paid

to this woman. I know where Arthur keeps his bank book- in one

of the drawers of that desk. I might find out by that. I will/p>

find out. [Opens drawer.] No, it is some hideous mistake. [Rises

and goes C.] Some silly scandal! He loves me! He loves me!

But why should I not look! I am his wife, I have a right to look!

[Returns to bureau, takes out book and examines it, page by

page, smiles and gives a sigh of relief] I knew it, there is not

a word of truth in this stupid story. [Puts book back in drawer.

As she does so, starts and takes out another book.] A second

book- private- locked! [Tries to open it, but fails. Sees paper

knife on bureau, and with it cuts cover from book. Begins to

start at the first page.] Mrs. Erlynne- L600- Mrs. Erlynne-

L700- Mrs. Erlynne- L400. Oh! it is true! it is true! How

horrible! [Throws book on floor.]

[Enter Lord Windermere C.]

LORD WIN. Well, dear, has the fan been sent home yet? [Going R. C.

sees book.] Margaret, you have cut open my bank book. You have

no right to do such a thing!

LADY WIN. You think it wrong that you are found out, don’t you?

LORD WIN. I think it wrong that a wife should spy on her husband.

LADY WIN. I did not spy on you. I never knew of this woman’s

existence till half an hour ago. Some one who pitied me was kind

enough to tell me what every one in London knows already- your

daily visits to Curzon Street, your mad infatuation, the

monstrous sums of money you squander on this infamous woman.

[Crossing L.]

LORD WIN. Margaret, don’t talk like that of Mrs. Erlynne, you don’t

know how unjust it is!

LADY WIN. [Turning to him.] You are very jealous of Mrs. Erlynne’s

honour. I wish you had been as jealous of mine.

LORD WIN. Your honour is untouched, Margaret. You don’t think for a

moment that- [Puts book back into desk.]

LADY WIN. I think that you spend your money strangely. That is all.

Oh, don’t imagine I mind about the money. As far as I am

concerned, you may squander everything we have. But what I do/p>

mind is that you who have loved me, you who have taught me to

love you, should pass from the love that is given to the love

that is bought. Oh, it’s horrible. [Sits on sofa.] And it is I

who feel degraded. You don’t feel anything. I feel stained,

utterly stained. You can’t realise how hideous the last six

months seem to me now- every kiss you have given me is tainted

in my memory.

LORD WIN. [Crossing to her.] Don’t say that, Margaret. I never

loved any one in the whole world but you.

LADY WIN. [Rises.] Who is this woman, then? Why do you take a house

for her?

LORD WIN. I did not take a house for her.

LADY WIN. You gave her the money to do it, which is the same thing.

LORD WIN. Margaret, as far as I have known Mrs. Erlynne-

LADY WIN. Is there a Mr. Erlynne- or is he a myth?

LORD WIN. Her husband died many years ago. She is alone in the

world.

LADY WIN. No relations? [A pause.]

LORD WIN. None.

LADY WIN. Rather curious, isn’t it? [L.]

LORD WIN. [L. C.] Margaret, I was saying to you- and I beg you to

listen to me- that as far as I have known Mrs. Erlynne, she has

conducted herself well. If years ago-

LADY WIN. Oh! [Crossing R. C.] I don’t want details about her life.

LORD WIN. I am not going to give you any details about her life. I

tell you simply this- Mrs. Erlynne was once honoured, loved,

respected. She was well born, she had a position- she lost

everything- threw it away, if you like. That makes it all the

more bitter. Misfortunes one can endure- they come from outside,

they are accidents. But to suffer for one’s own faults- ah!

there is the sting of life. It was twenty years ago, too. She

was little more than a girl then. She had been a wife for even

less time than you have.

LADY WIN. I am not interested in her- and- you should not mention

this woman and me in the same breath. It is an error of taste.

[Sitting R. at desk.]

LORD WIN. Margaret, you could save this woman. She wants to get

back into society, and she wants you to help her. [Crossing to

her.]

LADY WIN. Me!

LORD WIN. Yes, you.

LADY WIN. How impertinent of her! [A pause.]

LORD WIN. Margaret, I came to ask you a great favour, and I still

ask it of you, though you have discovered what I had intended

you should never have known, that I have given Mrs. Erlynne a

large sum of money. I want you to send her an invitation for our

party to-night. [Standing L. of her.]

LADY WIN. You are mad! [Rises.]

LORD WIN. I entreat you. People may chatter about her, do chatter

about her, of course, but they don’t know anything definite

against her. She has been to several houses- not to houses where

you would go, I admit, but still to houses where women who are

in what is called Society now-a-days do go. That does not

content her. She wants you to receive her once.

LADY WIN. As a triumph for her, I suppose?

LORD WIN. No; but because she knows that you are a good woman- and

if she comes here once she will have a chance of a happier, a

surer life, than she has had. She will make no further effort to

know you. Won’t you help a woman who is trying to get back?

LADY WIN. No! If a woman really repents, she never wishes to return

to the society that has made or seen her ruin.

LORD WIN. I beg of you.

LADY WIN. [Crossing to door R.] I am going to dress for dinner, and

don’t mention the subject again this evening. Arthur [going to

him C.], you fancy because I have no father or mother that I am

alone in the world, and that you can treat me as you choose. You

are wrong, I have friends, many friends.

LORD WIN. [L. C.] Margaret, you are talking foolishly, recklessly.

I won’t argue with you, but I insist upon your asking Mrs.

Erlynne to-night.

LADY WIN. [R. C.] I shall do nothing of the kind. [Crossing L. C.]

LORD WIN. You refuse? [C.]

LADY WIN. Absolutely!

LORD WIN. Ah, Margaret, do this for my sake; it is her last chance.

LADY WIN. What has that to do with me?

LORD WIN. How hard good women are!

LADY WIN. How weak bad men are!

LORD WIN. Margaret, none of us men may be good enough for the women

we marry- that is quite true- but you don’t imagine I would

ever- oh, the suggestion is monstrous!

LADY WIN. Why should you be different from other men? I am told

there is hardly a husband in London who does not waste his life

over some shameful passion.

LORD WIN. I am not one of them.

LADY WIN. I am not sure of that!

LORD WIN. You are sure in your heart. But don’t make chasm after

chasm between us. God knows the last few minutes have thrust us

wide enough apart. Sit down and write the card.

LADY WIN. Nothing in the whole world would induce me.

LORD WIN. [Crossing to the bureau.] Then I will. [Rings electric

bell, sits and writes card.]

LADY WIN. You are going to invite this woman? [Crossing to him.]

LORD WIN. Yes.

[Pause. Enter Parker.]

Parker!

PAR. Yes, my lord. [Comes down L. C.]

LORD WIN. Have this note sent to Mrs. Erlynne at No. 84A Curzon

Street. [Crossing to L. C. and giving note to Parker.] There is

no answer. [Exit Parker C.]

LADY WIN. Arthur, if that woman comes here, I shall insult her.

LORD WIN. Margaret, don’t say that.

LADY WIN. I mean it.

LORD WIN. Child, if you did such a thing, there’s not a woman in

London who wouldn’t pity you.

LADY WIN. There is not a good woman in London who would not

applaud me. We have been too lax. We must make an example. I

propose to begin to-night. [Picking up fan.] Yes, you gave me

this fan to-day; it was your birthday present. If that woman

crosses my threshold, I shall strike her across the face with

it.

LORD WIN. Margaret, you couldn’t do such a thing.

LADY WIN. You don’t know me! [Moves R.]

[Enter Parker.]

Parker!

PAR. Yes, my lady.

LADY WIN. I shall dine in my own room. I don’t want any dinner, in

fact. See that everything is ready by half-past ten. And,

Parker, be sure you pronounce the names of the guests very

distinctly to-night. Sometimes you speak so fast that I miss

them. I am particularly anxious to hear the names quite clearly,

so as to make no mistake. You understand, Parker?

PAR. Yes, my lady.

LADY WIN. That will do! [Exit Parker C.]

[Speaking to Lord Windermere.] Arthur, if that woman comes here-

I warn you-

LORD WIN. Margaret, you will ruin us!

LADY WIN. Us! From this moment my life is separate from yours. But

if you wish to avoid a public scandal, write at once to this

woman, and tell her that I forbid her to come here!

LORD WIN. I will not- I cannot- she must come!

LADY WIN. Then I shall do exactly as I have said. [Goes R.] You

leave me no choice. [Exit R.]

LORD WIN. [Calling after her.] Margaret! Margaret! [A pause.] My

God! What shall I do? I dare not tell her who this woman really

is. The shame would kill her. [Sinks down into a chair and

buries his face in his hands.]

ACT-DROP

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Chicago: Oscar Wilde, "First Act," Lady Windermere’s Fan Original Sources, accessed August 8, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4WRG9BPCDD9BP78.

MLA: Wilde, Oscar. "First Act." Lady Windermere’s Fan, Original Sources. 8 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4WRG9BPCDD9BP78.

Harvard: Wilde, O, 'First Act' in Lady Windermere’s Fan. Original Sources, retrieved 8 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4WRG9BPCDD9BP78.