An Apple Books Classic edition.
Rumor has it that upon passing through customs, Oscar Wilde once proclaimed, “I have nothing to declare but my genius.” Wilde’s play An Ideal Husband perfectly embodies the cutting wit and intelligence inherent in the celebrated author and playwright’s statement. The play is a satire about the Victorian moral code and hypocrisy. It’s a story full of blackmail, romantic entanglements, and corrupt politicians.
An Ideal Husband begins when a dinner guest threatens to blackmail her host, Sir Chiltern, with evidence that his vast fortune was amassed through crooked means. The mistress of the house, Lady Chiltern, will hear none of her husband’s alleged misdeeds, choosing instead to stand by her man. As the drama progresses, the Chilterns must find a way to evaluate their morals as they navigate the muddy waters of politics and marriage. First staged in 1895, the play was an immediate hit—and it continues to resonate, inspiring adaptations for radio, television, and film.