An Ideal Husband

Lord Arthur Goring Character Analysis

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 – joy, humor – to the pursuit of truth. Truth, he finds, is often occluded by propriety and cliché, and with the point of his wit he tries to scrape them off. He is primarily concerned with the truth of human relationships, their delights and boredoms. He is far from “heartless,” as his father Lord Caversham believes, since he holds his friends dearer than anything else. In his admirable romance with Mabel, his philosophy seems to find its reward.

Lord Arthur Goring Quotes in An Ideal Husband

The An Ideal Husband quotes below are all either spoken by Lord Arthur Goring or refer to Lord Arthur Goring. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of An Ideal Husband published in 2000.
Act 1, Part 2 Quotes

Oh! I am not at all romantic. I am not old enough. I leave romance to my seniors.

Related Characters: Lord Arthur Goring (speaker)
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

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I love talking about nothing, father. It is the only thing I know anything about.

Related Characters: Lord Arthur Goring (speaker)
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

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LORD CAVERSHAM
You seem to me to be living entirely for pleasure.

LORD GORING
What else is there to live for, father? Nothing ages like happiness.

Related Characters: Lord Arthur Goring (speaker), Lord Caversham (speaker)
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Part 1 Quotes

Ah! I prefer a gentlemanly fool any day. There is more to be said for stupidity than people imagine.

Related Characters: Lord Arthur Goring (speaker)
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

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In fact, I usually say what I really think. A great mistake nowadays. It makes one so liable to be misunderstood.

Related Characters: Lord Arthur Goring (speaker)
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Part 2 Quotes

Nobody is incapable of doing a foolish thing. Nobody is incapable of doing a wrong thing.

Related Characters: Lord Arthur Goring (speaker)
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

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All I do know is that life cannot be understood without much charity, cannot be lived without much charity. It is love, and not German philosophy, that is the true explanation of this world, whatever may be the explanation of the next.

Related Characters: Lord Arthur Goring (speaker)
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Part 1 Quotes

One sees that [Lord Goring] stands in immediate relation to modern life, makes it indeed, and so masters it. He is the first well-dressed philosopher in the history of thought.

Related Characters: Lord Arthur Goring
Related Symbols: The Buttonhole
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

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And falsehoods [are] the truths of other people.

Related Characters: Lord Arthur Goring (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Buttonhole
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

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But women who have common sense are so curiously plain, father, aren’t they?

Related Characters: Lord Arthur Goring (speaker), Lord Caversham
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Part 1 Quotes

Youth isn’t an affectation. Youth is an art.

Related Characters: Lord Arthur Goring (speaker)
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Part 2 Quotes

An ideal husband! Oh, I don’t think I should like that. It sounds like something in the next world….He can be what he chooses. All I want is to be . . . to be . . . oh! a real wife to him.

Related Characters: Mabel Chiltern (speaker), Lord Arthur Goring
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lord Arthur Goring Character Timeline in An Ideal Husband

The timeline below shows where the character Lord Arthur Goring appears in An Ideal Husband. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Part 1
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Romance, Boredom, and Delight Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Wit, Charm, and Contrariness Theme Icon
Lord Caversham enters the party and asks after his son, Lord Goring. He complains about his son’s leisurely, purposeless life, and Mabel Chiltern – Sir Chiltern’s flower-like... (full context)
Act 1, Part 2
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Romance, Boredom, and Delight Theme Icon
The next guest to enter is Lord Goring, a handsome man over thirty. The stage notes specify that he is “a flawless dandy,”... (full context)
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Wit, Charm, and Contrariness Theme Icon
Lord Caversham walks up to his son, Lord Goring. He chides his son for his idle, pleasure-seeking lifestyle, but Lord Goring explains lightly that... (full context)
Romance, Boredom, and Delight Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Wit, Charm, and Contrariness Theme Icon
Lady Basildon and Mrs. Marchmont come to talk to Lord Goring. They are surprised to see him at a “political party,” but he explains that no... (full context)
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Romance, Boredom, and Delight Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Wit, Charm, and Contrariness Theme Icon
...likes “looking at geniuses, and listening to beautiful people,” and everyone seems to agree. Lord Goring walks away with Mabel, who complains that he has not been sufficiently attentive. The two... (full context)
Act 1, Part 3
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Romance, Boredom, and Delight Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Lord Goring and Mabel Chiltern flirt pleasantly in the living room. Mabel finds a diamond brooch or... (full context)
Act 2, Part 1
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...the second act takes place in Sir Robert Chiltern’s morning-room, where Sir Robert and Lord Goring are discussing Robert’s predicament. Goring tells Robert that he should have been completely honest with... (full context)
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...were his misdeed to become public, and complains that the act was essentially harmless; Lord Goring points out gently that the misdeed harmed him, above all. Sir Robert goes on trying... (full context)
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...one thing truly worth having. Robert still sees the wisdom in this idea, though Lord Goring finds it “thoroughly shallow.” Robert is torn between remorse and stubborn pride. (full context)
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Finally, Robert asks his friend for advice. A confession, Lord Goring says, would ruin his career forever; what he must do now is tell his wife... (full context)
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Romance, Boredom, and Delight Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...from a meeting of the Women’s Liberal Association, which advocates labor and women’s rights. Lord Goring jokes that they must have thorough discussions of hats, and she scolds him good-humoredly. She... (full context)
Act 2, Part 2
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Romance, Boredom, and Delight Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lady Chiltern reenters and sits down to talk to Lord Goring about her husband’s mysterious dealings with Mrs. Cheveley. Awkwardly, Lord Goring tries to tell her... (full context)
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Romance, Boredom, and Delight Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Mabel Chiltern enters and forbids Lord Goring from acting seriously – it is “unbecoming.” They make plans to go riding the following... (full context)
Act 3, Part 1
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
The third act opens onto Lord Goring’s library, where the impressively inscrutable butler named Phipps is tidying up some newspapers. Lord Goring... (full context)
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Phipps hands Goring three letters and leaves the room. One letter is written on pink paper; it is... (full context)
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Romance, Boredom, and Delight Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Wit, Charm, and Contrariness Theme Icon
Just then, Lord Caversham enters. For Lord Goring, it is a very inconvenient time. Lord Caversham intends to have a serious talk with... (full context)
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
His father walks ahead into the room. Lord Goring takes Phipps aside and tells him that a lady is coming to visit him that... (full context)
Romance, Boredom, and Delight Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Wit, Charm, and Contrariness Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Suddenly, Lord Goring and Lord Caversham walk back into the library, and Mrs. Cheveley hides in the drawing-room.... (full context)
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Just then, Sir Robert walks in. He tells Goring despairingly that Mrs. Cheveley has revealed his shameful secret to his wife. He has also... (full context)
Act 3, Part 2
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Suddenly, Robert hears a noise in the drawing-room. Goring assures him there’s no one, but Robert feels apprehensive and decides to look for himself.... (full context)
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Wit, Charm, and Contrariness Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
A content-looking Mrs. Cheveley enters the library. Lord Goring is shocked to see her. He tells her he wants to give her some advice,... (full context)
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...speaks openly: she will give him Robert’s letter if he agrees to marry her. Lord Goring waves her off, expressing his dislike and contempt for her almost involuntarily. She speaks dismissively... (full context)
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lord Goring tells her that her malice toward Lady Chiltern is unforgivable. Mrs. Cheveley replies that her... (full context)
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lord Goring tells Mrs. Cheveley he will now call the police. Only on one condition will he... (full context)
Act 4, Part 1
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The fourth act takes place in Sir Robert’s morning-room, where Lord Goring waits restlessly to share his news. A servant comes in to tell him that Sir... (full context)
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...tells his son to go into politics, and then once again tells him to marry. Goring explains that he is too young for such dull things; when his father says that... (full context)
Romance, Boredom, and Delight Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Wit, Charm, and Contrariness Theme Icon
Mabel Chiltern comes in. She pointedly ignores Lord Goring, and asks Lord Caversham sympathetically about Lady Caversham’s hats, which she seems to consider a... (full context)
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Romance, Boredom, and Delight Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Mabel continues to prod Lord Goring about their missed date, but he charms her out of her ill spirits. He prepares... (full context)
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lady Chiltern walks into the room, and Mabel leaves them to speak in private. Lord Goring tells Lady Chiltern that Mrs. Cheveley gave him the incriminating letter, and that he has... (full context)
Act 4, Part 2
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...his wife’s expression of love and trust, and she decides not to correct him. Lord Goring discreetly leaves the room. Robert tells Lady Chiltern that he no longer fears public disgrace,... (full context)
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lord Goring comes back into the room, and Robert thanks him effusively. A servant comes in to... (full context)
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Goring sends his father to speak to Mabel in the conservatory. Meanwhile, Lady Chiltern reenters the... (full context)
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...carrying his letter of resignation. Lady Chiltern reads it and rips it up. Using Lord Goring’s own words, she tells Robert that she does not want him to sacrifice his career,... (full context)
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...and also by Robert’s change of heart about the Cabinet seat. He threatens to cut Goring off if he is not “an ideal husband” to Mabel, but Mabel interjects to say... (full context)