Another Look at Parker’s “An Ideal Husband”

An ideal Husband is a comedy  that was written by Oscar Wilde and brought to the London stage in January,1895. It was a success …  that is, until April 1895, when Wilde was arrested.

In light of this tidbit, there is an ironic line in the play when the female villain responds to the question why the victim of blackmail would have to pay

… Sooner or later we have all to pay for what we do. You have to pay now.

Indeed, Very soon, Wilde would be paying for his own so called “sins”.  But the play is a comedy, not a tragedy. Indeed, its a comedy  that ends on a very high note.

Oliver Parker’s adaptation of the play for film captures the rather light hearted touch. At the same time, it tones down the frivolity in favor of a slightly more realistic glimpse at upper class English society. And it through the plot, it embraces an optimistic view of the redemptive value of relationships.

I wish this theme was explored with the charm that you find in this story. Am I missing something?

BTW, when I wrote “slightly more realistic” above, I did not mean to say that the movie intends to be an accurate depiction of Victorian reality. In the end, this is a play about morality, not reality. The frivolity I had in mind was Wilde’s tendency to use dialogue to deliver his own bons mots. Parker tones this down just a bit, which allows the characters to come to life.  I found this to be refreshing.


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