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Lady Harbury

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Lady Harbury

Postby Bruce Everiss » Wed 22 Oct 2008 5:48 pm

Lady Harbury is an off stage character in Oscar Wilde's play The Importance Of Being Earnest.

Full article: ... est-play-7
"Wilde describes the situation for married women in equally depressing terms. When Lady Bracknell tells of her visit with the recently widowed Lady Harbury, Algernon remarks that he’s heard that “her hair has turned quite gold from grief.” The audience anticipates the cliched response, that her hair turned gray or white from sorrow, but Wilde turns the phrase around.

Why might her hair have turned gold instead? Like many Victorian women, Lady Harbury seems to have been trapped in a loveless marriage, the kind Lady Bracknell proposes to arrange for Gwendolen. Now that Lady Harbury’s husband is dead, she is finally free to become who and do what she wants. She feels younger, more attractive and changes her hair color. While the joke requires that we associate aging and grief, Wilde turns that around, associating widowhood instead with gold hair and joy. Algernon’s statement could also be an indication of the new wealth and independence Lady Harbury gained in inheriting her husband’s money. The simple turn of a phrase communicates a complex reality, in this case, about economic, social, and sexual politics."

A gothic take on The Importance of Being Earnest. Full article: ... ories.html
"Lady Harbury looked briefly down into her teacup. She returned her gaze to Lady Bracknell, who was still watching her intently, as if to suck information from her. Lady Harbury licked her dry lips, and Lady Bracknell’s gaze followed her small tongue as it wet her shaking lips.
“And so,” Lady Harbury continued in a small voice, “I have not seen him since.” She shifted her slight frame in the chair, tucking away a wispy strand of hair.
“I am sorry for your loss, Virginia,” said Lady Bracknell coldly. “Perhaps your manservant could fetch us some more of those crumpets?”
“Oh, I am sorry,” stammered Lady Harbury. “He has left for the market. I expect he shan’t return for a good two hours at least.”
“Hmm,” frowned Lady Bracknell. “I always believe that the efficiency of one’s servants is indicative of that of their master or mistress, as the case may be.” She replaced her cup of tea and sat her unusually tall and slender body into the chair. She pursed her lips, a splash of red against her otherwise pale face. Her black hair was pulled back neatly into a bun, daring not to rebel against its mistress. Black glittering eyes remained focused on Lady Harbury. There was a pause as Lady Harbury looked down, then glanced over at the grandfather clock by the door. “You are pressed for time, Virginia?” demanded Lady Bracknell lightly, yet with steel behind her voice.
“Oh, no..well...” Lady Harbury rose from her chair and paced around the room, so she was standing next to Lady Bracknell. “Before Lord Harbury died...he said...he told me something...about Lord Bracknell-”..................................................."
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Bruce Everiss
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