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An Ideal Husband

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In this play, there are several moments when new and surprising information which changes everything is dramatically revealed. Explore one such moment bringing out how the character’s words and actions make the moment so dramatic. I think that the moment that is the most dramatic would be when it is revealed that the diamond broach which Mrs. Cheveley wears had in fact been stolen from a relative of Lord Goring, who catches Mrs. Cheveley admitting to have been a thief, as Lord Goring remembers having given this broach to his cousin at her wedding.

The story so far showed us that this woman is so high in authority and always gets her own way. Therefore, when Lord Goring “holds up the broach” so that Mrs. Cheveley becomes anxious to get the broach back, this results in dramatic tension when he “clasps it on her arm”. At this point, she is so vein and obsessed with her appearance “it looks very well on me as a bracelet”, that she doesn’t realise that he knows that she stole it. She becomes over confident because she thinks that she is going to get away with it so easily thanks to her charm, but the audience knows otherwise.

This is dramatic irony as well as when Lord Goring “clasps” the broach on her arm. He also suddenly becomes more confident because he has the upper hand upon the matter of things. At this point in the play, the audience becomes exited at her fear when he says “I have found the thief now”, as she begins “tossing her head” in innocence and denying it “It is not true”. To this, Lord Goring says “thief is written across your face”, and at this moment, Mrs. Cheveley confesses this, “I will deny the whole affair”.

It is a pretty big shock for the audience to have her denying it one second, and the next admitting because she has no other choice as the bracelet is proof. Now, Lord Goring is in control of the situation; he is a threat to Mrs. Cheveley because he knows something he can use against her. He shows this by threatening her that he will fetch the police and that she will be prosecuted. His tone, is of course much more confidant and his tone of voice seems very mocking and ironic: “You can’t get that bracelet off… I see you don’t know where the spring is.

It is rather difficult to find”. The audience would find this very amusing. The audience imagines that he is thinking that he could make a deal with her: if he takes off the bracelet and doesn’t call the police, he could make her give him Sir. Robert’s letter so that he can destroy it. It is relatively comic that this so called “high-authority” woman is struggling to get a bracelet off “tears at the bracelet in a paroxysm of rage”, and we imagine the public to be highly amused to see her struggling. They will be relieved that this evil woman is finally getting what she deserves.

Throughout the play until then, the audience has been tense, and worried that Lord Chiltern is going to get into trouble, but now the audience may relax and even become exited at Mrs. Cheveley having the lower hand. It also informs us that this woman isn’t so “perfect” as she gives the impression to be or as we think she is, which makes it more dramatic. This also makes the audience eager to see what is going to happen next. Once again, Mrs Cheveley denies having the letter “I have not got it with me” and then admits having it after Lord Goring says, “You know you are lying”.

Once again she has been caught out “looking horribly pale” and the audience fells incredible relief when he “burns it over the lamp”. However, the moment the audience sees that Mrs. Cheveley “Catches sight of Lady Chiltern’s letter”, there is another case of ‘dramatic irony’. The audience now knows that Mrs. Cheveley is up to her usual knifing causing high suspense. And when she asks Lord Goring for a glass of water, he is still so confident that he doesn’t realise that she takes the letter as he goes and get the water himself when he could of called his servant in.

The audience feels especially angry with him when Mrs. Cheveley suddenly decides that she does not need a glass of water anymore. The act ends with her informing him of what she has just done, and her getting, once again, the upper hand on things because she has proof to now, break up the marriage between Lady Chiltern and Sir Robert Chiltern. The audience is left in an annoyed and irritated mood as they imitate the look on Lord Goring’s face; merely dramatic.

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