Lady Windermere’s Fan

by

Oscar Wilde

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The Duchess of Berwick Character Analysis

The Duchess of Berwich is a respectable older woman and friend of Lady Windermere’s. She is Agatha’s mother and Augustus’s sister. In the first two acts, the Duchess serves as a comedic representation of the expectations of polite society, especially as it concerns women’s roles. She is preoccupied with presenting herself and her daughter in a positive light, and she seems to use Lady Windermere more as a means to social gain than as an actual friend. The Duchess loves to gossip and tells Lady Windermere about the rumors surrounding Lord Windermere and Mrs. Erlynne, thus setting into motion the central misunderstanding that drives the plot. The Duchess also succeeds in getting Agatha engaged to Mr. Hopper at the party.

The Duchess of Berwick Quotes in Lady Windermere’s Fan

The Lady Windermere’s Fan quotes below are all either spoken by The Duchess of Berwick or refer to The Duchess of Berwick . 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

LADY WINDERMERE: It is very kind of you, Duchess, to come and tell me all this. But I can’t believe that my husband is untrue to me.

DUCHESS OF BERWICK: Pretty child! I was like that once. Now I know that all men are monsters. (Lady Windermere rings bell) The only thing to do is feed the wretches well. A good cook does wonders, and that I know you have. My dear Margaret, you are not going to cry?

LADY WINDERMERE: You needn’t be afraid, Duchess, I never cry.

DUCHESS OF BERWICK: That’s quite right, dear. Crying is the refuge of plain women but the ruin of pretty ones.

Related Characters: Lady Windermere (speaker), The Duchess of Berwick (speaker), Lord Windermere, Mrs. Erlynne
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Lady Windermere’s Fan LitChart as a printable PDF.
Lady Windermere’s Fan PDF

The Duchess of Berwick Character Timeline in Lady Windermere’s Fan

The timeline below shows where the character The Duchess of Berwick appears in Lady Windermere’s Fan. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act I
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Parker returns and announces the arrival of the Duchess of Berwick and her daughter, Agatha. The Duchess greets Lord Darlington and tells him that... (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 he’s gone. Then,... (full context)
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
Language and Truth Theme Icon
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
The Duchess of Berwick informs Lady Windermere that her husband, Lord Windermere, has been seen spending lots... (full context)
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
Language and Truth Theme Icon
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
...each other, have only been married for two years, and have a six-month-old child. The Duchess of Berwick tells her sympathetically that all men are bad, even when one marries them... (full context)
Act II
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
...ballroom is beautifully decorated, and Parker announces the guests as Lady Windermere greets them. The Duchess of Berwick and Agatha are already present, and the Duchess scolds Agatha for writing the... (full context)
Language and Truth Theme Icon
...saying that he thinks there will be several more. Meanwhile, Mr. Hopper arrives and the Duchess of Berwick quickly arranges his dances with Agatha. Lord Windermere asks Lady Windermere to speak... (full context)
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Augustus, the Duchess’s brother, arrives and takes Lord Windermere aside to discuss Mrs. Erlynne. Augustus is enamored with... (full context)
Morality and Ambiguity Theme Icon
Gender, Performance, and Femininity Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
The Duchess of Berwick enters along with several other guests. She announces to Lady Windermere that she... (full context)