Lady Windermere’s Fan

by

Oscar Wilde

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Lord Darlington is a young gentleman who is generally believed to behave wickedly, though Lady Windermere thinks he’s only pretending to be bad. Lord Darlington is playful and flirtatious and holds a flexible view of morality; in the first act, he tells Lady Windermere that he thinks her views are too black-and-white. Lord Darlington asks Lady Windermere to be his friend, but, when she asks for help in her distress over Lord Windermere, he confesses his love for her and asks her to run away with him. Lady Windermere refuses but later regrets her choice when she sees Lord Windermere and Mrs. Erlynne talking intimately, which convinces her further that her husband is being unfaithful. This misunderstanding leads to a dramatic series of misunderstandings in Lord Darlington’s apartment. Lord Darlington’s love for Lady Windermere is presented as genuine and romantic, but also unrealistic; the audience can see that he simply bends his ideas of what’s right to accommodate his own desires. Mrs. Erlynne is caught hiding in Lord Darlington’s apartment at the end of the third act, but the play does not make it clear what happens to him as a result of the seeming affair. In reality, Mrs. Erlynne only went to Lord Darlington’s apartment to stop Lady Windermere from leaving Lord Windermere, but this truth isn’t apparent to Darlington and the other men; Darlington honestly doesn’t have any idea what she’s doing there. Presumably, Lord Darlington leaves England at the end of the play as he told Lady Windermere he intended to do.

Lord Darlington Quotes in Lady Windermere’s Fan

The Lady Windermere’s Fan quotes below are all either spoken by Lord Darlington or refer to Lord Darlington. 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:
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Lady Windermere’s Fan published in 2008.
Act I Quotes

LORD DARLINGTON: Oh, nowadays so many conceited people go about Society pretending to be good, that I think it shows rather a sweet and modest disposition to pretend to be bad. Besides, there is this to be said. 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.

Related Characters: Lord Darlington (speaker), Lady Windermere
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

LORD DARLINGTON: Well then, setting mercenary people aside, who, of course, are dreadful, do you think seriously that women who have committed what the world calls a fault should never be forgiven?

LADY WINDERMERE: (standing at table) I think they should never be forgiven.

LORD DARLINGTON: And men? Do you think that there should be the same laws for men as there are for women?

LADY WINDERMERE: Certainly!

LORD DARLINGTON: I think life too complex a thing to be settled by these hard and fast rules.

Related Characters: Lady Windermere (speaker), Lord Darlington (speaker)
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Act II Quotes

LADY WINDERMERE: (C.) London is full of women who trust their husbands. One can always recognize them. They look so thoroughly unhappy. I am not going to be one of them. (Moves up) Lord Darlington, will you give me back my fan, please? Thanks…A useful thing a fan, isn’t it?…I want a friend tonight, Lord Darlington: I didn’t know I would want one so soon.

Related Characters: Lady Windermere (speaker), Lord Windermere, Lord Darlington
Related Symbols: Lady Windermere’s Fan
Page Number: 24-25
Explanation and Analysis:

LORD DARLINGTON: Wrong? What is wrong? It’s wrong for a man to abandon his wife for a shameless woman. It is wrong for a wife to remain with a man who so dishonours her. You said once you would make no compromise with things. Make none now. Be brave! Be yourself!

LADY WINDERMERE: I am afraid of being myself. Let me think. Let me wait! My husband may return to me. (Sits down on sofa)

Related Characters: Lady Windermere (speaker), Lord Darlington (speaker), Lord Windermere, Mrs. Erlynne
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
Act III Quotes

LADY WINDERMERE: I must go back—no; I can’t go back, my letter has put me in their power—Arthur would not take me back! That fatal letter! No! Lord Darlington leaves England tomorrow. I will go with him—I have no choice.

Related Characters: Lady Windermere (speaker), Lord Windermere, Lord Darlington
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Lady Windermere’s Fan LitChart as a printable PDF.
Lady Windermere’s Fan PDF

Lord Darlington Character Timeline in Lady Windermere’s Fan

The timeline below shows where the character Lord Darlington appears in Lady Windermere’s Fan. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act I
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
...roses and preparing for a party that evening. Her butler, Parker, arrives to announce that Lord Darlington has come to visit her. She tells Parker that she will accept his visit and... (full context)
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
Lord Darlington enters and tells Lady Windermere how beautiful her fan is. She thanks him and says... (full context)
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
Language and Truth Theme Icon
Lady Windermere scolds Lord Darlington for having praised her too much at a gathering the night before. He confesses that... (full context)
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Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Lord Darlington goes on to ask Lady Windermere to be “great friends” with him. She agrees that... (full context)
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Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
Lord Darlington considers Lady Windermere’s words and asks if, hypothetically, it would be wrong for a woman... (full context)
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
...announces the arrival of the Duchess of Berwick and her daughter, Agatha. The Duchess greets Lord Darlington and tells him that he is “far too wicked” to talk to Agatha. The Duchess... (full context)
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
After Lord Darlington leaves, the Duchess of Berwick remarks that she both likes him and feels glad that... (full context)
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Alone, Lady Windermere reflects that now she understands what Lord Darlington ’s hypothetical situation was really about. She says again that the rumors can’t be true... (full context)
Act II
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
...to reconsider her intention to humiliate Mrs. Erlynne. She moves away, taking her fan from Lord Darlington , who has been holding it for her. She remarks that she thinks she will... (full context)
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
...Mrs. Erlynne. Mrs. Erlynne returns the gesture and then moves off to join the party. Lord Darlington picks up the fan and returns it. Lord Windermere whispers to Mrs. Erlynne that it... (full context)
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
Language and Truth Theme Icon
Lord Darlington tells Lady Windermere that she looks pale, to which she replies: “Cowards are always pale!”... (full context)
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
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Lady Windermere and Lord Darlington return from the terrace. Lady Windermere bemoans her humiliation over Mrs. Erlynne, and Darlington tells... (full context)
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Lady Windermere recoils and tells Lord Darlington that she does not have the courage to run away with him. Darlington tells her... (full context)
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Watching them go, Lady Windermere decides that she was foolish to turn Lord Darlington down and resolves to leave Lord Windermere. She writes him a letter and leaves it... (full context)
Act III
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
Alone in Lord Darlington ’s rooms, Lady Windermere wonders when he will arrive and laments her situation. She worries... (full context)
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...the voices belongs to Augustus, at which point Mrs. Erlynne also hides in another room. Lord Darlington , Lord Windermere, Augustus, Dumby, and Cecil Graham all enter together. (full context)
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Family and Friendship Theme Icon
The men lament that the club made them leave so early. Lord Windermere thanks Lord Darlington for his hospitality but says he can’t stay long. Augustus replies that Windermere must stay... (full context)
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Lord Darlington comments that he doesn’t much like Mrs. Erlynne, and Cecil says that he likes her... (full context)
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Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
...there’s no point in behaving virtuously, because women will always think that men are bad. Lord Darlington agrees, suddenly moved to stop writing and join the others. (full context)
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Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
Lord Darlington admits that he is in love, but that the woman he loves is “a good... (full context)
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Cecil catches sight of Lady Windermere’s fan lying on the sofa and slyly asks Lord Darlington if he is faithful to the woman he loves. When he confirms that he is,... (full context)
Language and Truth Theme Icon
...Windermere recognizes the fan as Lady Windermere’s right away. Furious, he demands an explanation from Lord Darlington , who denies knowing anything about it. As an aside to himself, Darlington notes hopefully... (full context)
Act IV
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
Language and Truth Theme Icon
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
...he won’t ever be able to look at the fan again after the events in Lord Darlington ’s rooms, and Mrs. Erlynne says she’ll ask Lady Windermere to give her the fan.... (full context)
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
...Windermere. He explains that Mrs. Erlynne was actually looking for him when she went to Lord Darlington ’s rooms, having checked at the club first. She wanted to relieve the suspense and... (full context)