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'I think life too complex a thing to be settled by these hard and fast rules' (Darlington)
In Act 1 there is a discussion between Lady Windermere and Lord Darlington. This play heavily focuses on the social order and rules between men and women. In this scene they disagree on how to live their lives and how to go about things.
'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' (Darlington)
Lord Darlington is known to high society as a witty, charming, wreckless bachelor. This quote shows how everyone sees him. He is aware how people think of him and he is okay with their expectations of him. He does not want to be seen by high society as a serious, uptight man.
I can resist everything except temptation. (Lord Darlington)
Lord Darlington shows his struggle between being good and bad. This quote also shows his intentions for Lady Windermere and how he wants her. Him going after a married woman is not a good thing and he knows that. He goes through this play wanting things he cannot have.
Life is far too important a thing to talk seriously about.
This quote reflects how Lord Darlington lives his life. He does not take anything seriously. He does not realize the consequences of his actions. He asks Lady Windermere to go run away with him, but he does not realize the aftermath that could happen.
Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
This quote foreshadows the mistakes that are about to happen in the upcoming act.
We are all looking at the gutter but some us are looking at the stars.
At this point in the play Lady Windermere is going behind her husband's back and is starting to believe all of the rumors. At the time though Lord Windermere was still completely loyal, protecting his wife and looking foward which is what this quote is about.
“There are moments when one has to choose between living one's own life, fully, entirely, completely-or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands.” (Lord Darlington)
At this pont in the play, Lady Windermere is upset that Mrs. Erlynne has been invited to her party. She confides in Lord Darlington, and this is his response. He says that Lady Windermere must decde if she wants to take charge of her life, or if she's willing to live in her husband's shadow and conform to what society expects of her.
“Ideals are dangerous things. Realities are better. They wound, but they're better.” (Mrs. Erlynne)
Mrs. Erlynne gives this warning to Lady Windermere when she is saying her final goodbye. Lady Windermere has a perfect idea about what her mother was like, but Mrs. Erlynne warns her that having such perfect ideals could be dangerous. She wants to make sure that Lady Windermere faces reality because, even though it could sometimes hurt, facing the reality of a situation is better than having a false belief of a perfect world.
“Well, you are certainly marrying a very clever woman!” (Lord Windermere)
This quote summarizes Mrs. Erlynne. She uses her cleverness and wit throughout the play to outsmart many of the other characters. She is able to find a rich husband, and at the same time, leave Lady Windermere completely oblivious to the fact that they are mother and daughter. She also uses her quick wit to get herself and Lady Windermere out of the compromising situation at Lord Darlington's house.
“Why should I interfere with her illusions? I find it hard enough to keep my own.” (Mrs. Erlynne)
Mrs. Erlynne lets Lord Windermere know that she does not plan to reveal her maternal relationship to Lady Windermere. She realizes that it would be unnecessary to ruin the perfect image that Lady Windermere has of her mother. It will not cause any harm if the relationship is kept a secret.
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