An Ideal Husband

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Lord Arthur Goring

The play’s hero, an idle bachelor, a tireless seeker of pleasure, a mild-mannered social critic, and a shining wit: the exemplary dandy philosopher. He earns the title of dandy by applying the dandy’s principal modes… (read full character analysis)

Sir Robert Chiltern

A well-liked, busy politician known for his integrity in both public and private life. In the beginning of the play, he seems to be entirely in control of his fate. He is successful, esteemed, and… (read full character analysis)

Lady Gertrude Chiltern

Sir Robert’s wife, an icy, fastidious woman who takes pride in her finely tuned moral sense. She always categorizes people into “bad” and “good”, and recognizes no middle ground. Her idea of the good… (read full character analysis)

Mrs. Cheveley

A well-dressed, intelligent, manipulative woman who is faintly connected to all three protagonists. She went to school with Lady Chiltern, was briefly engaged to Lord Goring, and has a fateful mutual friend with… (read full character analysis)

Baron Arnheim

A mysterious figure from Robert Chiltern’s youth, and a former attachment of Mrs. Cheveley’s. In his lifetime, he preached the utter importance of power. He exists in the play not as a person… (read full character analysis)
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Lord Caversham

Lord Goring’s father, an irritable, stubborn man who frequently commands Lord Goring to grow up. He wants Lord Goring to marry, enter politics, and generally behave in a dignified manner. He is continually perplexed… (read full character analysis)

Lady Markby

A pleasant, decorous elderly lady who accompanies Mrs. Cheveley to all social events, apparently to lend Mrs. Cheveley an air of decency. In all respects, Lady Markby is the image of conservatism: her guiding lights… (read full character analysis)

Mabel Chiltern

Sir Robert Chiltern’s sister, a lovely, funny young woman. Mabel takes frivolousness as seriously as Lord Goring. She is the only person in the play who can truly match wits with him, and… (read full character analysis)


Lord Goring’s imperturbable butler, who caters to Lord Goring’s whims with a mixture of affection and strained tolerance. His perfect seriousness stands in counterpoint to Lord Goring’s perfect frivolousness, because both attitudes are seamless… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Mrs. Marchmont and Lady Basildon
Pretty, charming, eccentric young friends of the Chilterns. Their principal pleasure is an elaborate form of vague, glittering banter, and their principal occupation is their pleasure. They try to undo the duller aspects of propriety though humor.
Vicomte de Nanjac
An attaché at the French Embassy, and an amusing guest of the Chilterns.
Tommy Trafford
Mabel Chiltern’s dull admirer, who proposes to her more often than she would like.