Lady Windermere's Fan

by Oscar Wilde

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"I Can Resist Everything Except Temptation"

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Context: Lord Darlington, on a visit at the Windermere residence, learns that it is Lady Windermere's birthday and that she is having a party that night. Lady Windermere scolds Darlington for having paid her so many compliments the evening before at the Foreign Office. He replies that he was sincere in his compliments because he wants to be a good friend to her. In the ensuing conversation, Lady Windermere explains that because of the influence of an aunt who reared her, she herself has developed a strong belief in "the difference that there is between what is right and what is wrong." Darlington, on the other hand, feels that good people do harm in "that they make badness of such extraordinary importance." Lady Windermere's conviction is that a fault should not be forgiven and that there should be hard and fast rules for men and women, with no exceptions. At this point Darlington calls her "a fascinating Puritan."

"The adjective was unnecessary, Lord Darlington."
"I couldn't help it. I can resist everything except temptation."

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