These are a few excerpts from the play. There’s little I can add to them, so I will leave them as it is, without any comments.
LADY CAROLINE. He must be quite respectable. One has never heard his name before in the whole course of one’s life, which speaks volumes for a man, nowadays. But Mrs. Allonby is hardly a very suitable person.
HESTER. I dislike Mrs. Allonby. I dislike her more than I can say.
LADY CAROLINE. I am not sure, Miss Worsley, that foreigners like yourself should cultivate likes or dislikes about the people they are invited to meet. Mrs. Allonby is very well born. She is a niece of Lord Brancaster’s. It is said, of course, that she ran away twice before she was married. But you know how unfair people often are. I myself don’t believe she ran away more than once.
LADY HUNSTANTON. Lord Illingworth may marry any day. I was in hopes he would have married lady Kelso. But I believe he said her family was too large. Or was it her feet? I forget which.
LADY STUTFIELD. Ah! The world was made for men and not for women.
MRS. ALLONBY. Oh, don’t say that, Lady Stutfield. We have a much better time than they have. There are far more things forbidden to us than are forbidden to them.
LADY CAROLINE. Far too pretty. These American girls carry off all the good matches. Why can’t they stay in their own country? They are always telling us it is the Paradise of women.
LORD ILLINGWORTH. It is, Lady Caroline. That is why, like Eve, they are so extremely anxious to get out of it.
LORD ILLINGWORTH. The youth of America is their oldest tradition. It has been going on now for three hundred years. To hear them talk one would imagine they were in their first childhood. As far as civilisation goes they are in their second.
LADY STUTFIELD. [To LORD ALFRED.] How very, very charming those gold-tipped cigarettes of yours are, Lord Alfred.
LORD ALFRED. They are awfully expensive. I can only afford them when I’m in debt.
LADY STUTFIELD. But don’t the people to whom you owe the money give you a great, great deal of annoyance?
LORD ALFRED. Oh, no, they write; I don’t.
MRS. ALLONBY. Curious thing, plain women are always jealous of their husbands, beautiful women never are!
LORD ILLINGWORTH. Beautiful women never have time. They are always so occupied in being jealous of other people’s husbands.
MRS. ALLONBY. You are thinking of Lady Stutfield!
LORD ILLINGWORTH. I assure you I have not thought of Lady
Stutfield for the last quarter of an hour.
MRS. ALLONBY. Is she such a mystery?
LORD ILLINGWORTH. She is more than a mystery – she is a mood.
MRS. ALLONBY. Moods don’t last.
LORD ILLINGWORTH. It is their chief charm.
MRS. ALLONBY. I adore them. The clever people never listen, and the stupid people never talk.
HESTER. I think the stupid people talk a great deal.
MRS. ALLONBY. Ah, I never listen!
MRS. ARBUTHNOT. When a man is old enough to do wrong he should be old enough to do right also.
LORD ILLINGWORTH. There is nothing like youth. The middle-aged are mortgaged to Life. The old are in life’s lumber-room. But youth is the Lord of Life. Youth has a kingdom waiting for it.
LORD ILLINGWORTH. The history of women is the history of the worst form of tyranny the world has ever known. The tyranny of the weak over the strong. It is the only tyranny that lasts.
LORD ILLINGWORTH. Men marry because they are tired; women because they are curious. Both are disappointed.
LORD ILLINGWORTH. The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
HESTER. Hearts live by being wounded. Pleasure may turn a heart to stone, riches may make it callous, but sorrow – oh, sorrow cannot break it.