Wilde introduces politics in 'An Ideal Husband' as a highly respected career path in the Victorian era. As the protagonist Sir Robert Chiltern, a man who is regarded to be a "pattern husband" and to have had a "very interesting and brilliant career" by the public eye, is a politician, Wilde is able to exemplify the typical association of politicians have to flawless slates through the character of Sir Robert. Wilde additionally continues to place the character of Sir Robert Chiltern onto a pedestal during act 1 when his Wife, Lady Chiltern, praises him for bringing into the political life a "nobler atmosphere, finer attitude towards life, a freer air of purer aims and higher ideals", and frames this image of politics with the phrase "A political life is a noble career". Therefore from view of the public consensus in the opening act, Wilde exemplifies the nobility of a political career through Sir Robert Chiltern.
However, Wilde soon after undermines Sir Robert Chiltern from the pedestal which he places him upon, in order to dramatically expose the hypocrisy of politics. After portraying Sir Robert as a spectacle, Wilde juxtaposes Mrs. Cheveley exposing the scandalous roots of his career as a stark contrast. By calling his selling of a cabinet secret a "swindle" which is "a very nasty scandal", we see Wilde present the reality of corruptness in politics, as even Sir Robert Chiltern succumbs to its influence. And to enforce this undercutting further, by placing Sir Robert Chiltern onto a pedestal only to disavow him from it straight after, Wilde creates a deep dramatic irony making the audience acquire disillusionment of the nobility a political career. As a result of this, whenever Sir Robert is glorified by others such as Lady Chiltern when she addresses him as a “tower of ivory”; a symbol of purity, Wilde employs dramatic irony to deeply undermine the noble persona of politics and politicians. Thus Wilde limits the audience to believe that a political life...
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