An Ideal Husband


Oscar Wilde

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The Stolen Brooch Symbol Analysis

The Stolen Brooch Symbol Icon
The stolen brooch, which clasps shut around Mrs. Cheveley’s wrist, marks her as a liar and a thief. Like Robert’s letter to Baron Arnheim, it is the unambiguous incarnation of moral ambiguity. Both Robert and Mrs. Cheveley try to dismiss the moral implications of their actions, and both are cowed by the shame of actual evidence. One could argue that Mrs. Cheveley’s distress is not shame but fear of public disgrace, but the text suggests otherwise. When Mrs. Cheveley finds that she cannot remove the bracelet, she looks as though “a mask has fallen from her” – the mask of her beauty and her social graces, which conceals an inwardness she has previously denied. The brooch, then, is evidence not only of her crime but of the reality of that inwardness, the constellation of values that guides all actions, serious and trivial.
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The Stolen Brooch Symbol Timeline in An Ideal Husband

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Stolen Brooch appears in An Ideal Husband. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Part 3
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Romance, Boredom, and Delight Theme Icon
...Lord Goring and Mabel Chiltern flirt pleasantly in the living room. Mabel finds a diamond brooch or bracelet stuck between the couch cushions. Lord Goring asks if he may keep it... (full context)
Act 2, Part 2
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
The Trivial and the Serious Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...painting. Lady Markby explains that they have come to inquire about Mrs. Cheveley’s missing diamond brooch, but Lady Chiltern does not know anything about it. Lady Markby uses the occasion to... (full context)
Act 3, Part 2
The Natural and the Artificial Theme Icon
Love, Morality, and Forgiveness Theme Icon torment Lady Chiltern; she only visited her, she says, to ask about a missing brooch. At this, Lord Goring lifts said brooch from a drawer and clasps it around her... (full context)