Lady Windermere's Fan Essay on Society
For Kids and Teachers
The Duchess of Berwick, Lord Darlington and Lady Windermere reveal their true selves and the nature of the society that they live throughout this short passage. Lord Darlington is flirtatious, the Duchess is rude and Lady Windermere is patiently trying to remain kind.
Lord Darlington is clearly flirting with Lady Windermere, who is married, showing himself to be insincere. Lord Darlington obviously does not respect marriage calling it a “game”. It is obviously a game he wishes to win by stealing Lady Windermere away from her husband. He obviously has no respect for Lady Windermere or her position in society and is toying with her. He professes himself to be “wicked” early on in the conversation. Lady Windermere should listen to him when he warns her off.
The Duchess of Berwick is very arrogant and self-important. She is a gossip about her very best “friends” and disparages them anyway she can. She makes fun of their hospitality and is bitter and rude. She openly calls her own friends “the most dreadful people”. There is no doubt that the moment the Duchess leaves Lady Windermere she will talk behind her back as well.
Lady Windermere seems to believe both of these people are her dear friends and attempts to elevate them with gentle reprimand about their bad behavior. Lady Windermere tells the Duchess that she would not have anything to do with people “whom there is any scandal”. And she tells Lord Darlington to stop saying “foolish, insincere things to people”. Lady Windermere is quite naïve if she believes she can help these two scoundrels behave.
The characters reveal their set of values in the short passage very clearly. Lord Darlington and the Duchess of Berwick are self-serving and arrogant and Lady Windermere is too simple and kindhearted to notice.