Last Updated on June 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 190
Context: Lady Hunstanton has invited several guests to tea, among whom are Lady Caroline Pontefract and her henpecked husband, Sir John. Lady Caroline shows constant anxiety over the health of her husband. She reminds him that he should have his muffler; she sends him to put on his overshoes; and she has him sit near her where he will be less exposed. When the guests start to the Yellow Drawing-Room for tea, Sir John offers to carry the cloak of one of the ladies. His wife stops him and suggests, ". . . you might help me with my workbasket." Mrs. Allonby, a witness to the scene, tells Lord Illingworth, another guest, "I should have thought Lady Caroline would have grown tired of conjugal anxiety by this time! Sir John is her fourth!" Illingworth scoffs at so much marriage and says twenty years of it makes a woman "something like a public building." Mrs. Allonby then asks if there is such a thing as twenty years of romance.
"Not in our day. Women have become too brilliant. Nothing spoils a romance so much as a sense of humour in the woman."