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3.

2 Character

There are 6 characters in this play entitled “Lady Windermere’s Fan” by Oscar Wilde. The
characters in the play are listed below:

o Lord Windermere o Lady Windermere


o Lord Darlington o The Duchess of Berwick
o Lord Augustus Lorton o Mrs. Erlynne

The main characters are Lord Windermere, Lady Windermere, and Mrs. Erlynne. The
secondary characters are the Duchess of Berwick, Lord Darlington, and Lord Augustus Lorton.

 Mrs Erlynne

Mrs Erlynne is the main character of the play as she appears a lot in the play. She is the
long-lost mother of Lady Windermere and throughout the story it is revealed that she ran away
with another men, leaving her husband and her daughter; then she was disgraced by her action
as the man whom she ran away with leaving her and she lost her social status. In the play Mrs
Erlynne is portrayed as a beautiful woman, full of confident, know what to say to make people
do what she wants and quiet cunning. Her confident can be seen in second act when Cecil
Graham introduced Mrs Erlynne to Lady Jedburgh, and later his friends Dumby asked did he
introduced Mrs Erlynne to Lady Jedburgh and he said “had to, my dear fellow. Couldn’t help
it! That woman can make one do anything she wants. How, I don’t know” this shows that Mrs
Erlynne have confident and know what to say. Furthermore, her cunning personality can be
seen when she revealed to her daughter that “the hold I have over him- “shows that indeed she
had something on Lord Windermere that makes him follow her command, and that is his love
to Lady Windermere. She told Lady Windermere “It is his love for you that made him submit
to oh! call it what you like, tyranny, threats, anything you choose” which revealed that indeed
she threaten Lord Windermere thus he abides by her command.

However, even though she seems like an antagonist character based on her characters, she
is a protagonist character as at act 3 she shows her maternal instinct and protect her daughter
from going through the same path as she is. This also shows that her character got a
development since the start of the play she seems to be rather cunning yet at the end of the play
she seems nice and capable of love. In act 3 she helps her daughter and tell her to hide behind
the curtain and slip out when she ever got a chance and pretend that the she took Lady
Windermere fan by accident and took all the blame. At first, she didn’t think she is capable of
love as she told Lord Windermere in act 4 “I thought I had no heart” however she does have a
heart as she continuous to say “I find I have a heart, and a heart doesn’t suit me”. It means that
she does have a heart which come to life when she sees her daughter in peril and wants to
protect her, yet because of that she had to sacrifice herself in place of saving her daughter, and
this act of sacrifice doesn’t go well with her thus she said the heart doesn’t suit her. To sum
everything up Mrs Erlynne is a main character, and is dynamic. She is portrayed as beautiful
women, confident personality, quiet cunning, and have a maternal instinct.

 Lady Windermere

Lady Windermere is the main character of the play, and also a protagonist character. She
is married to Lord Windermere and have six months old son. She is portrayed as innocence,
shares a puritan value and hold a moral standard highly. This can be seen in act 1 when Lord
Darlington make a metaphor in which there’s a young married couple, and the husband
becomes the intimate friend of a woman of doubtful character, calling upon her, lunching with
her, and probably paying for her bills, and ask Lady Windermere opinion on should not the
wife console herself, and then Lady Windermere said console herself? This shows that she
holds such a moral standard as she questioning the need of console oneself. Still in act 1 we
can also see her puritan values when Lord Darlington said “Well then, setting aside mercenary
people, who of course, are dreadful, do you think seriously that women who have committed
what the world calls a fault should never be forgiven? And Lady Windermere answered by
saying “I think they should never be forgiven” this lack of empathy is surprising here because
Lady Windermere is portrayed as a good Puritan since Puritan should be merciful, kind, and
forgiving. She is rather cold and unforgiving moralist.

Lady Windermere also portrayed as a faithful wife as for example she doesn’t want her
admirer to paid her any compliments. She further said about herself that “I have something of
Puritan in me. I was brought up like that. I am glad of it.” This further shows that she holds
Puritan value. Moreover, she asserts that living would be easier if it was settled by ‘hard and
fast’ rules, and therefore her concept of good and bad is very simple; this shows her naivety
and view of life. Thus, because of her belief she seems to always acts in the conviction to be
right which push her to become a self-righteousness character and become a judgmental and
intolerant towards other people who do not apply the same rules to their life as she does.

As what have been stated before, Lady Windermere is a main character, thus she is also a
dynamic character. Throughout the story because of problem between Lady Windermere with
her husband, she questioned her belief. Within twenty-four hours Lady Windermere’s naïve
view on the world is challenged, and she has never been in a need to question any of her belief
because she has never been in a situation that required it until the problem between her and her
husband arise. The whole situation on her birthday is overcharging for her. So, the rush decision
of leaving her husband is nothing but panicky reaction to something that she has never expected
to happen in her own life. At the start she seems to be really a serious and self-righteousness
person, but then after she told her husband that she would slap Mrs Erlynne using her birthday
fan, yet she didn’t go through with her action we can see her weakness, she seems unsteady
and immature. She did call herself as “pale coward” because she fails to redeem her
forewarning to strike Mrs Erlynne across the face with her birthday fan if she was to appear at
the party. Another example of her weakness is given when she admits to Lord Darlington in
Act two that “I am afraid of being myself”. Her self-confident seems to be a deceiving façade.
Then, at last she gets her eyes opened to a side of life she did not know of before and her view
on good and bad is soften. However, throughout the story Lady Windermere never mention
about her son, even when she was thinking of running away with Lord Darlington and leaving
her husband, this makes her seems to neglect her son despite her moral. It makes her seems
like a bad mother. To sum everything up, Lady Windermere is the main character of this play,
she is portrayed as innocence, naïve, hold a high moral and puritan value, faithful, self-
righteousness, immature, and unsteady.

 Lord Windermere

Lord Windermere is the main character of the play as he appears a lot in the play. He is the
husband of Lady Margaret Windermere. He has one son which is 6 months old.in the play he
is portrayed as protective, loving, and big personality. In the play society regard Lord
Windermere as the “ideal husband”. He tries to protect his wife from every evil. He tries to
preserve her innocence and purity which he loves so much about her by hook or by crook. That
is why he let himself be blackmailed by Mrs Erlynne, that is why he lies to her about her
mother. He wants to save his wife from the truth about her mother. He wants to save his wife
from the truth about her parentage because it would devastate her in his opinion. He treats his
wife like a child and shows in his behavior a perfectly fine example of a Victorian husband. He
does not see an equated partner in her but an inferior child that needs his protection and
guidance this shows as when he refers his wife as ‘child’ in act 1 when Lord Windermere and
his wife have a conflict about inviting Mrs Erlynne to the balls and Lord Windermere said
“child, if you did such thing, there’s not a woman in London who wouldn’t pity you” this shows
that indeed Lord Windermere treats his wife as a mere child which need guidance on what she
is doing. He is a typical gentleman and a man of principles.

Throughout the story he seems to have a very positive view on Mrs Erlynne and thought of
her of someone noble, however at the end he thought of her as a purely evil women who cannot
be trusted because Mrs Erlynne was in Lord Darlington room. Thus, this is actually an irony
because at first Lord Windermere trying to convince his wife that Mrs Erlynne is a noble person
and his wife didn’t want to believe that and think of Mrs Erlynne as evil woman but then
because of the accident Lady Windermere think of Mrs Erlynne as an angel yet Lord
Windermere thinks Mrs Erlynne as an evil woman. Furthermore, Lord Windermere also hold
a high value on morality as his wife, as he seems to blame Mrs Erlynne because of the incident
without further investigation. Thus, to sum up everything Lord Windermere is a main character,
he is portrayed as protective, loving husband, and has a big personality.

 The Duchess of Berwick

The Duchess of Berwick is the secondary character because she affected the main character
which Is Lady Windermere, she is the one who informed lady Windermere about his husband
“unfaithfulness” to her. In the play the Duchess of Berwick portrayed as someone which is talk
active and highly interested in scandal and drama, she also seems to has a big personality and
is very strong minded about her opinion. It can be seen from how she informs lady Windermere
about the gossip involving her husband below:

“Ah, what indeed, dear? That is the point. He goes to see her continually, and stops for
hours at a time, and while he is there she is not at home to anyone. Not that many ladies
call on her, dear, but she has a great many disreputable men friends—my own brother
particularly, as I told you—and that is what makes it so dreadful about Windermere. We
looked upon him as being such a model husband, but I am afraid there is no doubt about
it. My dear nieces—you know the Saville girls, don’t you?—such nice domestic creatures—
plain, dreadfully plain, but so good—well, they’re always at the window doing fancy work,
and making ugly things for the poor, which I think so useful of them in these dreadful
socialistic days, and this terrible woman has taken a house in Curzon Street, right opposite
them—such a respectable street, too! I don’t know what we’re coming to! And they tell
me that Windermere goes there four and five times a week—they see him. They can’t help
it—and although they never talk scandal, they—well, of course—they remark on it to
everyone. And the worst of it all is that I have been told that this woman has got a great
deal of money out of somebody, for it seems that she came to London six months ago without
anything at all to speak of, and now she has this charming house in Mayfair, drives her
ponies in the Park every afternoon and all—well, all—since she has known poor dear
Windermere”. (Wilde, 1893:8)

Moreover, The Duchess of Berwick also seems like a vulnerable character as in the play
she seems to be in vulnerable state when her husband The Duke of Berwick involved. In the
play she mentioned” that on several occasions after I was first married, I had to pretend to be
very ill, and was obliged to drink the most unpleasant mineral waters, merely to get Berwick
out of town. He was so extremely susceptible. Though I am bound to say he never gave away
any large sums of money to anybody. He is far too high-principled for that!” (Wilde, 1893:8).
It shows that she becomes vulnerable enough to pretend that she is ill to get her husband away
from other women. Furthermore, she goes on to mention that “in fact before the honeymoon
was over, I caught him winking at my maid, a most pretty, respectable girl” (Wilde, 1893:8)
because of this incident it makes The Duchess of Berwick self-conscious as the Duke couldn’t
get through their honeymoon without flirting with another women and worse showing affection
towards other women from the lower class while the Duke has her right in front of him.

Therefore, because of the relationship between the Duchess of Berwick and her husband it
causes her to have a pessimistic attitude towards marriage and men in general. She remarks
that “all men are monsters, the only thing to do is to feed the wretches well “, and “they never
grow any better, men become old but they never become good”. To sum up everything that has
been stated The Duchess of Berwick is a secondary character which has a big personality,
confident, yet vulnerable when her husband come in the pictures and pessimistic about
marriage and men in general.

 Lord Darlington

Lord Darlington is the secondary character as he has a direct relationship and can affect the
main character which is Lady Windermere. In the play Lord Darlington is in love with Lady
Windermere. Lord Darlington stands in the play for the “immoral counterpart to Lord
Windermere” he is the embodiment of a dandy “I can resist everything except temptation”. He
is portrayed as ‘wicked person’ as The Duchess of Berwick call him. He seems to fall in love
with Lady Windermere because of her innocence and moral value. At first, he might come
across as flirtatious and a bit smug it can be seen when he keeps complimenting Lady
Windermere and she complained about it as she said “… I don’t like compliments” to Lord
Darlington. Throughout the story, Lord Darlington character seems to develop as from Act II
he becomes much more human and less self-centered as a man with broken heart. Below we
can see how different Lord Darlington before and after the broken heart.

Act I: “Don’t say that, Duchess. As a wicked man I am a complete failure. Why, there are
lots of people who say I have never really done anything wrong in the whole course of my life.
Of course, they only say it behind my back” in here he seems to be self-centered.

Act III: “Cecil, if one really loves a woman, all other women in the world become
absolutely meaningless to one. Love changes one- I am changed.” And in here we can see, he
becomes more romantic and down to earth.

Thus, to sum everything up Lord Darlington is a secondary character, he is the dandy of


the story and he is portrayed as self-centered, wicked, and broken-hearted man.

 Lord Augustus Lorton

Lord Augustus Lorton is the secondary character as he has a direct relationship with Mrs
Erlynne, he is portrayed as someone whose fall head over heels in love with Mrs Erlynne. He
seems to not be very clever, also really obedient to Mrs Erlynne as he does what she asked of
him right away without any complain. The example of this is when Mrs Erlynne asked him to
keep Lord Darlington with him and bring him to the club and he asked for the reward and Mrs
Erlynne said to ask her tomorrow and he said “Well, really, I might be her husband already.
Positively, I might. [Follows her in a bewildered manner.]”