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12ATLIT - "An Ideal Husband" by Oscar Wilde: Home

This Guide is designed to support students who are developing a creative, informed and sustained interpretation of Oscar Wilde's novel, An Ideal Husband, using close textual analysis.

Task Outline

An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde. 

Secondary texts: referring to texts studied in Year 11 (The Importance of Being Earnest) and Year 12 (The Age of Innocence) for intertextuality. 

Hale School Reader containing various articles on, and guides to, An Ideal Husband. 

  • developing a creative, informed and sustained interpretation supported by close textual analysis 

  • how interpretations of texts vary over time 

  • the ways in which ideological perspectives are conveyed through texts drawn from other times and cultures, and how these perspectives may be reviewed by a contemporary Australian audience 

  • how specific literary elements and forms shape meaning and influence responses. Genres may have social, ideological and aesthetic functions. Writers may blend and borrow conventions from other genres to appeal to particular audiences 

  • how genre, conventions and language contribute to interpretations of texts. Choice of language is related to ideological and aesthetic considerations 

  • the ways in which the expectations and values of audiences shape readings of texts and perceptions of their significance; and how the social, cultural and historical spaces in which texts are produced and read mediate readings. 

Synopsis of An Ideal Husband

An Ideal Husband (1895): Sir Robert Chilton, friend of Lord Arthur Goring (the son of Lord Caversham), has exploited government secrets for financial gain in the Suez Canal Affair early in his political career; his secret is discovered by Mrs. Cheveley who threatens blackmail at the cost of his career as well as his marriage to Lady Chiltern, a figure of strict rectitude who cannot tolerate character flaws, especially in her ‘ideal’ husband. Both Chilterns turn to Lord Arthur while Mabel Chiltern, Sir Robert’s sister, looks on Lord Arthur as a potential husband for herself. Yet in order to be a successful blackmailer, one’s own reputation must be beyond reproach and, in the event, the blackmailer turns out to have stolen a bracelet from Lord Arthur’s cousin Mary Berkshire and Arthur sees her off, but not before she attempts to destroy Lady Chiltern with an ambiguous letter that the latter has addressed to Lord Arthur. At the conclusion of these transactions Lord Arthur reveals ‘the philosopher that underlies the dandy’ and proves himself ‘the first well-dressed philosopher in the history of thought’, resolving all difficulties with wise words about human love, tolerance and the dangers of idealisation. (Act. IV.) Finally, Lady Chiltern learns to accept her husband’s appetite for power and Lord Arthur proposes to Mabel Chiltern, undertaking - in Lord Caversham’s words - to become ‘an ideal husband.’

Featured Books

Online encyclopaedia:

Online encyclopaedias are great for short, concise and reliable information. It may be best to access these articles from the Online encyclopaedias page through the Hale portal. Don't forget Britannica has ready made citations for you to use.

  • Variety of reading levels
  • Quality resources including text, images, videos and ‘Web’s Best Sites’
  • Read aloud facility
  • Size your font up or down
  • Ready-made citation

Catalogue Search

Use terms "Oscar Wilde" and " An Ideal Husband" to locate resources available in Forest library.

Click View - Oscar Wilde Biographical video

A new production of the Rolls-Royce of English comedies, Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, filmed live at the Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End,



Oscar Wilde

Full Name: Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde 

Born:October 16, 1854 in Dublin, Ireland

Died: November 30, 1900 aged 46 of meningitis.

Family: Father a doctor, mother a poet, siblings-brother and sister. Wife-Constance Lloyd, two sons: Cyril-1885, and Vyvyan-1886

Education: Portora Royal School, Trinity College-Dublin, Magdalen College-Oxford,

Famous Works: 

  • The Picture of Dorain Gray (1890)
  • Lady Windermere's fan (1892)
  • A Woman of no Importance (1893)
  • Salome (1893)
  • An Ideal Husband (1895)
  • The Importance of Being Ernest (1895)

Suggested Websites

Suggested Videos

Oscar Wilde Biography: His "Wild" Life

Reference Generator

It is important that you show your teacher you used a variety of reliable resources. Use the online Reference Generator available through the Portal to create your citations. Make sure you alphabetically sort them afterwards.

Referencing Oscar Wilde's Books.

Wilde's plays and books may appear as if they have a different author mainly due to the book in question being a new publication or an edited or annotated synopsis of his works

Raby, P., 1997. The Cambridge Companion To Oscar Wilde. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Wilde, O., 2007. Collected Works Of Oscar Wilde. Ware, England: Wordsworth Editions.



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