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AN IDEAL HUSBAND*


* Wilde O. Plays. M., 1961.

The Persons of the Play


The Earl of Caversham [':1 v 'kvm]

Viscount Goring ['vakant ':r]

Sir Robert Chiltern ['rbt 'tltn]

Vicomte de Nanjac [v'kt d 'nnk]

Mr. Montford ['mntfd]

Mason ['mesn]

Phipps [fps]

James [demz]

Harold ['hrld]

Gertrude [':tru:d]

Lady Markby ['m:kb]

The Countess of Basildon ['kants v 'bеzldn]

Mrs. Marchmont ['m:tmnt]

Miss Mabel Chiltern [mebl]

Mrs.Cheveley, Laura ['tI:vl l:r]
Other Proper Names


p. 173 Boucher [bu:'e]

Louis Seize ['lu(:) 'si:z]

p. 174 Lawrence ['lrns]

p 175 Tanagra ['tnn]

p. 178 Vandyck [,vn 'dak]

p. 181 Corot [k:'r]

Baron Arnheim ['brn ':nham]

Penelope [p'nelp]

p. 188 the Argentine Canal [':dntan k'nl]

p. 189 the Panama Canal ['рnm:]

the Suez Canal [su:z] or [sz]

p.212 Mr.Trafford ['trfd]

p.222 Bath [b:]

p.225 St. James's Street [snt 'demzz]

p.232 Sphinx [sfks]

Inverness [,nv'nes]

Inverness cape [,nvnes 'kep]


Notes on the titles of nobility used in the play


  1. earl – title of a British nobleman of high rank; feminine title is countess.

  2. lord – title prefixed to names of peers and barons, hereditary titles of high rank; feminine title is lady.

  3. baron – title of a British nobleman of the lowest rank.

  4. baronet – lower in rank than a baron.

  5. sir – prefix to the name of a knight or baronet.

  6. duchess ['dtis] – wife or widow of a duke, a nobleman of high rank next below a prince.

  7. viscount – nobleman higher in rank than a baron, lower than an earl.

vicomte – a similar title used in France.

* Pay attention to the following:

Titles of nobility immediately preceeding a name are capitalized.

e.g. Lord Caversham, Sir Robert Chiltern, Baron Arnheim, etc.


Assignments


First Act


I. Recall the sentences in which the following proper names are used in the text:


the Row (p. 175), the Ladies' Gallery (p. 194) "the old Greek" and Penelope (p. 181). Say what they mean.


II. Each of the characters is associated with an artist or a work of art. There are also references to exquisite pieces of furniture or tapestry, the entire house, with its great chandeliers and magnificent staircases.

Answer the questions. Use the functional phrases given below.


  1. What are the associations that help the reader imagine the characters of the play?

  2. What do they think (say) about each other? (Lady Chiltern, Sir Robert Chiltern, Lord Goring, Mrs. Cheveley, Mabel Chiltern).

  3. What impression do the main characters produce on you?


I think/suppose/believe...; speaking about/of...; generally speaking...; it may appear strange, surprising etc...; it's common knowledge that...; it's well-known that...; it's common for everyone...; I can't help thinking...; as you all know...; it's obvious for me...; as far as I am concerned...; I'm absolutely sure that...; well as I see it...; the surprising fact is that...; my experience is that...; in my experience...; I remember quite clearly that...; as you imagine...; what impressed me most is...; difficult to say, but...


III. Write out from Act I the sentences with the following phrases.


С нетерпением ожидать (р. 177); заняться политикой (р. 178); очень хотеть что-то сделать (р. 181); объяснить что-то (р. 179); в пользу, в поддержку (р. 193); называть вещи своими именами (р. 189); быть замешанным (р. 189); быть настроенным (р. 190); не говоря о (р. 190); говорить о политике, о морали (pp. 184, 193).


IV. Use the original phrases from Act I for the following.


To be thankful; to explain; to join the conversation; to refuse to do; to support by speaking; to make no difference; to be involved in; to go to bed late at night; let alone; to feel like doing something; boring; to enjoy doing; undertaking.


V. Translate into Russian.


1. We had promised him that we wouldn't invite any people in and that wouldn't try to talk art to him.

2. I know he looked forward to our little chats.

  1. Somebody is trying to blackmail you. I can't account for these letters in any other way.

  2. Since Sir John has taken to attending the debates regularly his language has become quite impossible.

5. I am not in favour of this modem mania for turning bad people into good people at a moment's notice.

6. I'm not in the mood for serious music.

7. I don't mind your talking morality a bit. Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike. You dislike me.

  1. We're all dying for a drink.

  2. He wants to take to gardening when he retires.

10. In the twentieth century man is protected from disease as no man before has been, and he can look forward to living a longer life than his grandfather did.


VI. Search Act I for 6 phrases with the verb make and 7 phrases with the verb do.


  1. Give their Russian equivalents.

  2. Make up a few sentences with some of the phrases.

  3. Give 2 or 3 more phrases with make and do and explain their meanings in English.


VII. Answer the questions. Use the above functional phrases (Ref.Ex. II).


  1. Why do such nice women as Lady Basildon, Mrs. Marchmont and the like go to parties according to their own confession?

  2. How does Mabel Chiltern describe Lord Goring's life?

  3. How does Lord Goring explain to Lady Basildon the way MPs stand long debates?

  4. How did Sir Robert Chiltern lay the foundation of his wealth and his career?

  5. Why did Mrs Cheveley challenge to say to Sir Robert "... it is not for you to make terms" ?

  6. What future did Mrs. Cheveley draw for Sir Robert in case he refused her terms? Prove that he began to give in.

  7. What do you think of Mrs. Cheveley's method of achieving her goal?

  8. What piece of the setting is mentioned by O. Wilde at the beginning and at the end of Act I? What implication does it have?


VIII. Discuss the paradoxes.


a) Read the definitions of a paradox and a pun which are so characteristic of O. Wilde's plays, as "he was a man who was fascinated by paradox and found it to be his most efficient means of communication".


Paradox is a statement that seems to say something opposite to common sense or truth, but which may contain a truth.

e. g. More haste, less speed.

Pun (a play on words) is a humorous use of words which sound the same or of two meanings of the same word.

e. g. The name of the play "The Importance of Being Earnest" is a pun itself where Ernest is a name and earnest is an adjective "serious".


b) Prove that the following statements are paradoxes.


  1. "I find that little things are so very difficult to do".(Sir R. Ch.p. 181)

  2. "Nothing ages like happiness". (L. G. p. 184)

  3. "You have a splendid position, but it is your splendid position that makes you so vulnerable". (Mrs. Chev. p. 193)

  4. ..., now that the House of Commons is trying to become useful, it does a great deal of harm". (L. Mark. p. 178)

  5. "I adore political parties. They are the only place left to us where people don't talk politics". (L. G. p. 184)

  6. "We have married perfect husbands, and we are well punished for it". (Mrs. March, p. 185)

  7. "I love talking about nothing, father. It is the only thing I know anything about". (L. G. p. 184)


c) Analyse the above examples from the point of view of the linguistic basis of a paradox.


IX. Which stylistic devices are used in Act I? (repetition, inversion,comparison, metaphor, irony). Find examples and say what effect is achieved.


X. Give synonyms to or paraphrase the given words and phrases used in the play. Explain their difference.


To alter; to decline; to condemn; astounding; entirely; to drift apart; this moment; to flatter; tedious; speculation; to have a great desire for food; to adore; hazard; to show the influence of too many schools.


XI. Translate into Russian the passage on pp. 192-193 in writing.


Mrs. Cheveley: "My dear Sir Robert, what then? ... in favour of this scheme".


XII. "An Ideal Husband" is a comedy of manners, so it is no wonder it is rich in adjectives which describe people, actions, manners, etc. Owing to the plot the play is full of "negative" adjectives.

Pick out 10 such words and say who or what is described.


XIII. Express your opinion.


1. Whose point of view do you share:

Sir Robert: "I am not changed. But circumstances alter things".

Lady Chiltern: "Circumstances should never alter principles!" (p. 200).

2. Do you agree that "Sooner or later we have all to pay for what we do?" (Mrs. Cheveley. p. 193).


XIV. Choose a scene (a dialogue) and act it out. Account for your choice (pair and individual work). Use the functional phrases(Ref. Ex. II).


XV. What scene may be considered as the climax of Act I?Describe it. Use the functional phrases (Ref. Ex. II).


XVI. Discuss any scene of Act I. Speak about motives of behaviour,reactions, consequences, etc. Use the functional phrases (ref.Ex. II) as well as the list of starters below (pair work).


How do you feel about...; What do you think about...; I wonder why, when, how, etc...; You know what I think about...; What's your opinion about...; What makes you say that...; Do you really mean to say that...; Well, as I see it...; Wouldn't you say that...; There is a point in what you say; Something else I'd like to know is this...; There is just one more point I'd like to make...; In order to give a fairly clear picture...; I couldn't have put it better myself...; That's exactly what I think...; I can't agree more...; I don't guite see the point...; I am not sure I guite agree...; I don't guite see what you mean...; All things considered I must say...; On the one hand..., on the other hand...; Although it's true to say that...; I suppose that's true in a way, but...; Yes, but isn't it also true to say that...; Well, how shall I put it? Well, actually...; I'm not sure what you mean by...; What's your experience?


XVII. Exchange your impressions of Act I. Use some of the above phrases.


XVIII. Give a brief summary of Act I.

Second Act


I. a) Find English equivalents of the following phrases:


отвлекать внимание от (р. 205); поддаться соблазну (р. 208); судить о ком-то по чему-либо (р. 208); быть помолвленным с (р. 210); стоит что-то делать (р. 212); иметь влияние на кого-либо (р. 212); сделать предложение (р. 218); устаревший (р. 219); очень громко (р. 219); быть высокого мнения о (р. 219); одобрять что-либо (р. 223); применять что-либо в отношении кого-либо/чего-либо (р. 227); быть обязанным кому-то чем-то (р. 228); совершить ошибку (р. 230).


b) Recall the sentences in which the phrases are used in Act II.


II. Translate into English.


1. Вы не знаете, что может ожидать вас, если вы не покинете этот дом тотчас же. 2. Вы серьезно считаете, что женщин, совершивших ошибку, никогда нельзя простить? 3. Всегда стоит задать вопрос, но не всегда стоит отвечать на него. 4. Джек должен был отвлечь полицейского, пока я отпирал дверь. 5. Да, все это очень хорошо, но я боюсь, что тетя Августа не одобрит твое присутствие здесь. 6. Пусть ваш муж скажет, чем он обязан своему положению в обществе. 7. Вчера вечером Томми сделал мне предложение в музыкальной комнате. 8. Роберт высокого мнения о мистере Треффорде. Он считает, что его ждет блестящее будущее. 9. Она считает, что раскаяние нынче не в моде. 10. Говорят, она имеет на него влияние. 11. Я помолвлена с мистером Уордингом, мама. 12. Нельзя судить о характере человека по форме его подбородка или по цвету глаз.


III. Paraphrase using the original words and phrases from Act II.


in a very loud voice; to make a mistake; to have an influence on; to fall to temptation; to tell the whole truth; out of fashion; to like smth.


IV. What new touches does Act II add to the portraits of the four main characters?


  1. Write out the words and phrases that describe them in Act II.




  1. Discuss the motives of their behaviour. Use the functional phrases (Ref. Act I, Ex. II and XVI) (pair work).


V. a) Read the following piece of "A Literary Exploration of O. Wilde" by Christopher S. Nassaar.

Characters and their Masks



1. When Sir Robert Chiltern first appears, he is described as being nervous and self-conscious. He has every right to be nervous,for his wife sees him as inhumanly flawless, and consequently he has to wear a permanent mask or lose her love. "Oh! What a mask you have been wearing all these years! A horrible painted mask".(Lady Chiltern).

  1. Lord Goring hides his heart behind a trivial buttonhole and a nonserious pose. His father continually accuses him of being shallow, but ironically, it is the father who is shallow, for he fails to recognize the reality behind the delightful toy mask his son wears.

  2. There is a split between public life and private life. The public world is one of sordid speculations and self-seeking power-hungry creatures, while the private world is beautiful, unsoiled, innocent.Lady Chiltern admits public life into her private world, but she sees it masked without realizing what is behind the mask.


b) Answer the questions.


  1. What man is behind Sir Robert's mask?

  1. What reality is hidden behind the delightful toy mask of Lord Goring?

  2. Who are "self-seeking power-hungry creatures" and what are"sordid speculations" in the play?


VI. Answer the questions. Use the functional phrases. (Ref. Act I, Ex. II and XVI)


  1. Who is described as "a man of culture, charm and distinction.One of the most intellectual men..."?

  2. What was Baron Arnheim's philosophy of power?

  3. What will be your answer to Sir Robert's question "Do you think it fair that a man's whole career should be ruined for a fault done in one's boyhood almost?"

  4. According to Sir Robert's confession he never suffered any remorse or any regret for what he had done. How can you account for his saying: "The truth has always stifled me" ?

  1. Why did Sir Robert sigh with relief: "Ah! That is the great thing in life, to live the truth."?

  2. Why does Sir Robert call his wife "perfect" though he does not approve of the idea of making ideals?

  3. What is the main mission of love according to Sir Robert? Do you share his opinion?

  4. Which of the spouses seems to you more unhappy on account of the incident?

  5. Whose point of view on power and compromise do you share?(Sir Robert's or Lady Chiltern's)


VII. Comment on the following paradoxes.


1. "Life is never fair. And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not. (Lord Goring, p. 206). 2. "...when the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers". (Sir Robert Chiltern, p. 209). 3. Sir Robert Chiltern: "I have paid conscience money many times..." Lord Goring: "In public charities? Dear me! What a lot of harm you must have done, Robert! (p. 209)


VIII. Read another piece of "A Literary Exploration of O. Wilde".


Neither Sir Robert nor Lord Goring but Lady Chiltern is the central character in the play. The action of the drama is based on her development from innocence to experience to higher innocence.

The point is that she is less perfect than she imagines. Some of Wilde's fairy tales indicate that the world of innocence is not human. The same is true of Lady Chiltern's world of innocence; it is a place in which human beings as though touched by a magic wand, become art objects. She sees her husband as an idol on pedestal, a beautiful work of art, perfect and white, made of ivory.

The imagery associated with Lady Chiltern, too suggests a nonhuman quality. This is how Act II ends... She is like a plant, or a blossom, but plants and blossoms are not human. They represent a delightful but underdeveloped form of life. There are higher forms, and Lady Chiltern, still a child, must move beyond her world if she wants to attain a better and more noble existence. Lord Goring saves Sir Robert from Mrs. Cheveley, but only Lady Chiltern's ability to move toward a higher innocence can really open up a new world for him. Lord Goring shows her the road. It is love and charity that will make Sir Robert, a prisoner of the past, a free man. (see p. 216)

a) Do you agree with the author? Give your arguments.


b) How do you assess Lady Chiltern's behaviour? The text above and the phrases below will help you to answer the question.


To be hard on smth; to make allowances to smb; to alter one's views; to worship smb; to make an ideal of smb; to turn from smb with horror and contempt; to be worth smth/doing smth; the origin of one's fortune; to ruin smb's career, life; to make false idols of smb.


c) What do you think of the two points of view on love?


"...love should come to cure us." (Sir Robert, p. 230) "I will love you always, because you will always be worthy of love." (Lady Chiltern, p. 202, Act I)


IX. Translate into Russian the passage on pp. 230-231 in writing("...Women think that they are making ideals of men ... haveruined mine."(S. R. Ch.)


X. a) Search Act II (both the lines and the author's remarks) for phrases of comparison


e. g. "I feel like a man on a ship that is sinking." (Sir Robert, p. 213)

Say what effect is achieved by comparison in your instances.


b) What stylistic devices dominate in Act II?

XI. Pick out some more adjectives for negative description, and say what or who they define.


XII. What scene in Act II may be considered its culmination?Describe it.


XIII. Act out a dialogue you like best in Act II (pair work). Give your comments on the scene you've performed (individual work).


XIV. Discuss Sir Robert's words first in the context of the play and then in the context of these days. Use the functional phrases. (Ref. Act I, Ex. II and XVI)


"Youth is the time for success." (p. 206) "The God of this century is wealth. To succeed one must have wealth... At all costs one must have wealtht." (p. 206)


XV. Exchange your impressions of Act II. Use the functional phrases.(See above).


XVI. Give a summary of Act II.


Third Act


I. a) Translate into Russian the lines from Act III in writing.


  1. "Well, I will make her stand by her husband." (Lord Goring,p. 234)

  2. "Why don't you take him for your model?"(Lord Caversham,p. 236)

  1. "His lordship is engaged at present with Lord Caversham,madam." (Phipps, p.238)

  2. "You would probably make a very poor choice."(Lord Caversham, p. 240)

  3. "What a mess I am in!" (Lord Goring, p. 242)

  4. "I have made up my mind what I am going to do tonight in the House." (Sir Robert Chiltern, p. 244)

  5. "There is property at stake." (Lord Caversham, p. 240)

  6. "I have a perfect passion for listening through keyholes." (Mrs.Cheveley, p. 246)

9. "Doesn't that sound rather like tempting Providence?"(Lord Goring, p. 246).

  1. "Oh! Surely Providence can resist temptation by this time."(Mrs. Cheveley, p. 246)

  2. "And you threw me over because you saw... poor old Lord Mortlake trying to have a violent flirtation with me in the conservatory at Tenby." (Mrs. Cheveley, p. 247)

  3. "When I saw you last night at the Chilterns' I knew you were the only person I had ever cared for, if I ever have cared for anybody." (Mrs. Cheveley, p. 248)


b) Use the italicized phrases in your sentences.


II. Substitute one of the below words or phrases for the parts of the following sentences which are italicized.


1. You loved me once and you asked me to be your wjfe.

2. I cannot accept this offer, I have decided to decline it.

3. She is not interested much in eloquence in others. She thinks it a little loud.

4. I am going to do him a great service.

5. He had only two topics of conversation, his gout and his wife!I never could understand which of the two he was talking about.

6. How you men support each other!

7. My life is in danger.

8. The fact is that I am busy to-night.

9. Soon after the engagement the young scoundrel abandoned her.

  1. Lord Caversham suggested that his son should imitate his friend Robert Chiltern.

  2. Overlooking and overhearing by stealth is a bad vice.

  3. I'll stay with you whatever happens.


To throw over; at stake; to make up one's mind; to propose to; to be engaged; to care for; to listen through keyholes; to render smb a service; to stand up for smb; to take smb for a model; to make out; to stand by.


III. Find the original for the italicized words and phrases.


1. I am dying for a glass of water. (p. 242)

2. I love her immensely. (p. 243)

3. I want to instruct my servant. (p. 242)

4. I was cruel to her this evening. (p. 243)

5. I am disgraced in her eyes. (p. 243)

  1. She has exposed me, Arthur... (p. 243)

  2. My life seems to have ruined. (p. 242)

8. I can rely on you absolutely, can't I? (p. 242))

9. My wife has found out everything. (p. 241)

  1. There are lights in the room, and the doors are wide open.(p. 244)

  2. She has broken my heart in two. (p. 243).


IV. Describe the scene of misunderstanding between Lord Goring and Sir Robert Chiltern. Use the below phrases.


To hear a chair fall; to get excited; to give one's word of honour; to eavesdrop one's life secret; to have a reason for doing smth; to be at stake; to be guiltless of all offence; for smb's sake; to have something to do with smb.


V. Answer the questions.


  1. Will you prove that Phipps "represents the dominance of form"? Isn't it the reason for being termed "Ideal Butler"?

  2. Why did Lord Caversham insist on Lord Goring's marriage?

  3. What displeased Lord Caversham about his son's manner of speaking?

  4. How do you like Lord Caversham's idea of women's inferiority?

  5. Why is Lord Goring sure that Lady Chiltern will forgive her husband?

  6. Do you agree that "good women are pitiless in their perfection, cold and stern without mercy" according to Sir Robert?

  7. How many times did Mrs. Cheveley prove to be a thief?

  8. How did Lord Goring expose Mrs Cheveley as a thief?

  9. What makes Mrs. Cheveley hate Lady Chiltern so much?


VI. Search Act III for the author's remarks referred to Mrs.Cheveley. Pick out those which reveal her wicked nature and enable O. Wilde to associate her with a lamia.


VII. Choose a dialogue of half a page size and render it in reported speech. The list of verbs below will help you vary your presentation.


To wonder, to be dying to know; to learn; to discover; to agree; to refuse; to accept; to intend; to pretend; to advise; to insist; to justify; to make conclusion; to call smb's attention to; to distract smb's attention from; to point out; to exclaim; to add; to keep silent; to ignore; to make smb do smth; to reproach smb for smth; to be pleased with smb; to be surprised, shocked by smth/at hearing smth; to accuse smb of smth; to misunderstand.


VIII. Explain the paradoxes.


  1. "Don't use big words. They mean so little." (Mrs. Cheveley,p.252)

  2. "In married life affection comes when people thoroughly dislike each other." (Lord Goring, p. 240)


IX. What syntactical peculiarities mark the speech of Mrs.Cheveley? (pp. 238-239) How can you account for them?


X. Describe the psychological and emotional state of Sir Robert,expressed by the metaphor "I am a ship without a rudder in a night without a star." (p. 242)


XI. Discuss the conversation between Lord Goring and Mrs.Cheveley. Concentrate on the motives of their behaviour and methods of attaining their goals. Use the functional phrases(pair work). (Ref. Act I, Ex. II and XVI)


XII. Read the following fragments of criticism.


1. Oscar Wilde is a controversial figure. On the Continent of Europe his reputation stands as high as ever it did, and his name is probably, after Shakespeare's, the best known in English letters.

Englishmen are inclined to think this estimate exaggerated, and some of them have gone so far as to suggest that Wilde would now have been forgotten if it were not for "the scandal". "His verse will not bear a moment's critical attention. It is a series of echoes, relying upon a technical manipulation of phrase. Only in his comedies we reach the form wherein a theatrical intelligence displayed its proper quality." (James Laver)

  1. "In a certain sense Mr. Wilde is to me our only thorough playwright. He plays with everything: with wit, with philosophy, with drama, with actors and audiences, with the whole theatre and hisaphorisms are worth to rank with those of la Rochefoucauld."(Bernard Shaw)

  2. "The man or woman who does not chuckle with delight at the good things which abound in "Lady Windermere's Fan" should consult a physician at once". Thus wrote one of the leading critics of the day. He was an exception. Though the hostile reviews didn't stop the public from flocking to the St. James's Theatre. A year later"An Ideal Husband" was also very well received by the public.

Both plays were "comedies of manners" with their traditional conflict between intellect and emotion; the question of sex roles and their effect on the individual; and the individual's position in a utilitarian and hypocritical society. "Husband" is unquestionably a social comedy." (Rodney Shewan)


  1. Translate the text into Russian.

  2. Express your opinion on these fragments of criticism.

  3. Put a few questions to the text and ask the class.

  4. Retell the text.




  1. Make a brief exchange of impressions of Act HI. Use the functional phrases. (Ref. Act I, Ex. II and XVI)




  1. Give a summary of Act III.



Fourth Act


I. a) Find the English equivalents of the following phrases:


досада, неприятность, неудобство (р. 255); терять время (p. 256); нарушить договоренность (р. 258); мешать, быть помехой (р. 259); взять себе за правило, заиметь, завести привычку (р. 260); зависеть от кого-либо (р. 262); отплатить, возместить (р. 267); уйти в отставку (р. 268); помешать что-то сделать (р. 268); пожертвовать ради кого-то (р. 270); испытывать любовь к кому-то (р. 275).


  1. Recall the situtations in which the phrases are used.

  2. Make sentences upon Act IV with the above phrases.


II. Translate into English.


1. Род завел себе привычку скрывать от жены все неприятности на работе. 2. Она предупредила, что, если он не придет, как они договорились, она не будет больше с ним знаться. 3. Жена советовала ему уйти в отставку, чтобы они могли уединиться где-нибудь за границей, подальше от людей. 4. Если я не мешаю, я останусь и подожду, пока вы раскладываете розы в вазы. 5. Молодой человек, боюсь, что вы напрасно тратите время. Господина Брауна не будет до вечера. 6. Никто и ничто не помешает мне увидеть юную воспитанницу Джека. 7. Мне так не хочется (такая тоска) читать эту длинную статью! 8. Она не ждет благодарности за то, что делает для него каждый день. Она просто выполняет свой долг. 9. Роберт так сильно любил свою жену, что пожертвовал ради нее своей карьерой и славой. 10. Никто не мог представить, что эта молодая симпатичная особа только что украла у матери дорогую брошь. 11. Его любовь к сыну безгранична.


III. Explain in English.


The whole course of one's existence; turning point of one's life; to denounce a scheme; to have some influence on; detestable people; to reduce; to fall to a temptation; to conceal; a nuisance; to deliever a speech.


IV. Substitute the original words for the italicized words and phrases.


1. He has got more than courage. Sir, he has got a genius. (p. 257)

2. I wonder you agree to have anything to say to me. (p. 261)

  1. Mrs. Cheveley tried to ruin your husband. (p. 269)

  2. Rather than lose your love, Robert would do anything, wreck his whole career as he is about to do. (p. 270)

  3. You owe Lady Chiltern, not me. (p. 271)

6. I wish you would become a member of Parliament. (p. 257)

  1. That admirable father of mine really makes a habit of appearing at the wrong moment. It is very unkind of him, very unkind indeed. (p. 267)

  2. Don't yield to any temptations? (p. 262)

  3. It makes me depend on you very much. (p. 262)

10. But I admit I have something to tell you that may upset you. (p. 263)

11. Mrs. Cheveley has given to Lord Goring the document. (p. 265).


V. Answer the questions.


  1. Why is it a nuisance for Lord Goring to meet his father very often?

  2. Why was Mabel Chiltern angry with Lord Goring that morning?

  3. What saved Lady Chiltern's reputation in the eyes of her husband?

  4. Why did Mrs. Cheveley's attempt to make Sir Robert misinterpret his wife's letter to Lord Goring fail?

  5. How does Sir Robert like the idea of retiring from public life?

  6. What are, in your opinion, the strongest points of Lord Goring's appeal to Lady Chiltern?

  7. How did Sir Robert "repay" to Lord Goring at first?

  8. What makes Sir Robert think his wife even more ideal than before?

  9. What happy ending is in store for each character of the comedy?

10. What is your idea of an ideal husband?


VI. 1. Make up Sir Robert Chiltern's speech in the House to denounce the Argentine Scheme, deliver it in class. (Refer to pp. 188-189, Act I)


2. Describe all that happened in Lord Goring's drawing-room the day before. Use the below phrases:


To ask smb for help; to trust smb; to expect smb; to be concealed; to find out; to demand that smb should do smth; to force one's way; to have a terrible scene; to steal smth from smb; to take smth by force; to make use of the stolen letter; to ruin smb; to disgrace smb in the eyes of smb.


  1. Fill in the blanks in Lord Caversham's exciting speech. (p. 268)

  2. Imagine "a new life" for both of the Chilterns.


VII. Explain the following statements.


  1. Lord Goring: "I don't at all like knowing what people say of me behind my back. It makes me far too conceited." (p. 259)

  2. Sir Robert Chiltern: "...I suppose, Gertrude... I suppose I should retire from public life?"

Lady Chiltern: "Oh yes, Robert, you should do that. It is your duty to do that."

Sir Robert Chiltern: "It is much to surrender."

Lady Chiltern: "No, it will be much to gain." (p. 266)

3. Lady Chiltern: "It is upon lines of intellect that a man's life progresses." (p. 271)


VIII. Read the following pieces of criticism.


1. "The play showed a considerable advance in construction and characterisation over the author's previous comedies, in spite of the weak fourth Act."

"The play was rejected on the basis of the last act's weakness; it had too many entrances and exits."

2. "The act is cleverly constructed to extract maximum theatrical excitement from the various disclosures."


  1. Count the number of "entrances and exits" in Act IV and say if there are too many of them.

  2. Discuss the structure of Act IV (pair work).


IX. What stylistic device is used in Lord Caversham's pathetic lines on p. 267 and in pleading lines on p. 268?


  1. What effect is achieved here?

  2. Search Act IV for some more instances of this device.


X. a) Find some paradoxes in Act IV.

b) Name the characters of the comedy who are fond of paradox. Account for such peculiarity of their speech.


XI. Read the piece of criticism of George Woodcock (Wilde's contemporary) who objects to O. Wilde's specious moral scheme.


"In a circle where all are guilty, Chiltern, who has gained most by his roguery, is able to escape without punishment, and the height of his career is reached in a hypocritical speech wherein he denounces "the whole system of modern political finances" regardless of the fact that he is one of the worst examples of its use. His duplicity gains him universal praise for integrity, and so political farce is drawn to its usual end."


  1. Translate the passage into Russian.

  2. Say if you agree with the author or not. Why?

  3. Spot the paradox which is the strongest point of the piece.


XII. It's noteworthy to say that many characters of Oscar Wilde's plays owe their names to place names. Look at the map of England and find the following place names:


the Chiltern hills, the Lake Windermere, the Lake District, Goring-on-Thames, Worthing, Darlington, Bracknell.


  1. Act out a dialogue you like best (pair work). Give your comment on the scene performed. Use the functional phrases.




  1. Give a summary of Act IV.


XV. Discuss the character sketch of one of the characters of the play (pair work).


FINAL DISCUSSION


I. Read the passage.


"Each character in the main plot provides the dramatic conflict: Lady Chiltern who believes that "circumstances should never alter principles"; Mrs. Cheveley, the libertine Machiavelli; Lord Goring, who hopes never to be taken seriously, but whose philosophy of surfaces does not prevent him from uttering the most serious lines of the play; and Sir Robert Chiltern whose features suggest "an almost complete separation of passion and intellect".


  1. Translate into Russian.

  2. Discuss the ways the characters (perhaps with the only exception) managed to solve their conflicts with happy results (pair work).


II. Exchange your impressions of the play. Keep in mind that"Husband" is the only comedy in which Wilde's full contempt for the hypocrisy of social norms, and his fears of their powers,are balanced by a detached presentation of a successful and socially acceptable alternative.


III. Answer the questions.


  1. How does the meaning of the word "triumph" vary in the play?

  2. How would you explain the following passage:

"The play is basically about the triumph of love – although, paradoxically, love can triumph only after art world of Boucher and great chandeliers has been transcended".

  1. What is "a candid summary of the values by which Lady Chiltern has chosen to live, and by which she must hold, if she is to contribute to their joint future"?

  2. What devices made "Husband" a "well-made play"? How did O. Wilde manage to give the trivial intrigue a new twist that in the long run made it a brilliant comedy?

  3. What stylistic peculiarities mark the language of the play?




  1. Exchange your opinions on "the dandies and the serious people" of the play. Speak about their appearance, manner of behaviour, way of living.




  1. Write a synopsis (a summary) of the play using the Present and related tenses. (See the beginning of the synopsis of "The Importance of Being Earnest", Ex. VIII, Act Three)


VI. Run a talk on O. Wilde's background, literary career and his play "Husband". Use the above summary of his biography and all the fragments of critical analysis.
1   ...   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   ...   15

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