Private Lives Summary

Summary (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Sibyl Chase loves being married. She is as much in love with the idea of being a bride as she is with her husband, Elyot, and perhaps more so. On the first night of their honeymoon, Sibyl had gone into raptures over Elyot, but she did not forget, or let him forget, that she knew he had loved his first wife Amanda madly. She is now certain that the breakup of that marriage had been Amanda’s fault and that she had been a mean-tempered and probably a wanton woman. When Sibyl tells him that she knows how to handle a husband, how to make him happy, Elyot fears that she means she knows how to manage a husband. He is a trifle disturbed.

Unknown at first to the Chases, Amanda is honeymooning at the same hotel with her new husband, Victor Prynne. Victor has much the same ideas about marriage as does Sibyl. He intends to take care of Amanda, to make her forget that dreadful brute to whom she had been married. The fact that Amanda never asked to be taken care of is unimportant. Victor will teach her to be a suitable wife.

When Amanda and Elyot see each other again, each wants to move out of the hotel before their respective mates knows about the presence of the other couple. Sibyl and Victor, however, who are not accustomed to making abrupt changes without reason, refuse to leave. Amanda and Elyot thereupon decides that they are not culpable when they talk together again and recall their happy times together. Both try for a time to avoid the issue uppermost in their hearts and minds, but at last Elyot breaks off the polite conversation to say that he still loves Amanda. They fall into each other’s arms.

Amanda tries for a time to make them consider Sibyl and Victor, but Elyot easily convinces her that those two will suffer more if they all live a lie. After making plans to go to Paris, Amanda and Elyot leave without a word of explanation.

Because they had fought so violently and so often in their married days, Amanda makes Elyot promise that whenever they start to bicker they will use a password and each keep quiet for two minutes. In Amanda’s flat in Paris, they are often forced into quick use of the...

(The entire section is 875 words.)

Private Lives Summary

Act I
The setting is the terrace of an elegant hotel on the French Riviera; two separate suites open onto it, from either side...

(The entire section is 1569 words.)