The philosophy of the good governance can be defined as the quality process involving decision making and also the process that is engaged in the implementation of the decisions. In every chapter of the Daodejing, the Laozi uses the word Tao to demonstrate the use of philosophy of the good governance (Wilde, p.47). He described Tao as Dao which in some cases means the way things are. This paper aims to apply the philosophy of the good governance, advocated by Laozi in an attempt to interpreted and understand “An Ideal Husband” by Oscar Wilde.
According to Laozi, Dao can be considered as a process of acquiring and discarding tangible objects, by impression of a particular object for a particular object for a direct until the new one is acquired to replace that object (Laozi & Philip, p.xxvi). Therefore, a good governance must consider the fact that some actions seems to be profitable and sensible for the time being but the actor must engage in some new actions as a circumstance of change. Laozi advocates that no matter how the governance appears to be good, there must be some new changes that should be associated with such governance.
The concept of change can therefore be used to understand the theme of modernity in Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. There are those characters that have a good governance and others have poor governance. For instance, Lady Markby has a fear of change to the extent that she warning Mabel of dangers associated with becoming increasingly modern. She suggests that, the more a person becomes modern, the more they become out of date. Remarkably, Sir Robert argues that every modern fortune is based on the private information, thus he is in opposition of the modernity since it she the necessity of the political corruption (Wilde, p.49). Mabel in this case is portrayed as one of the characters in the society who are embracing change. Therefore, the philosophy of good governance can be used to explain how the people in the Wilde’s context are exercising poor decision making that are guided by the weakness of inability to embrace change. In this play, most characters appear to accept the social conventionality, though they claim to have an interest in modern society. In general, the society described by Wilde portrays some weakness in the good governance. This is because, although there are some people in the society that are hesitant to change, they have to sacrifice short-run interest for the sake of majority.
Laozi also suggested that good governance is associated with the ability of an individual to depend more on factors beyond their own, thus those who “affirms their own views are well known” (Laozi & Philip, p.22). Once a person does not depend on any of their own power they are in a position to attain what Laozi referred to as “action through inaction”. For a good governance to be exercised, an individual must consider universal factors. This concept is therefore significant on explaining the decisions that are exercised by women to facilitate their role in their society as illustrate by Wilde. The reason why women are vied to be complex in their lives is due the fact that they consider so many universal principles to shape their role in the society. It is due to this view of complexity that Sir Robert asks Mrs. Chevely whether science can be able to solve women problems (Wilde, p.18).
It is evident in the play that there are characters that are trying to shape the concept of the good governance in the society. For instance, the aim of Wilde on portraying Lord Goring’s speech to Lady Chiltern about the women responsibility in the society was to reveal how women accept external factors in their decision making .Lady Chiltern was in a position to accept the advice and as a result she was able to stand by her husband. The ability of the modern woman to embrace on change and accept other factors that they are not their own, has enabled them to become e more knowledgeable than traditional women as explained by Lady Chiltern. In this case, the role of the women in the play is facilitated by their ability to successively taking advantage of the modernization as their strength.
As the Laozi emphasized, a wiser person is able to take advantage of the other’s strength. This argument goes their same way in the context of the women the play, where, they engage in taking advantage of the strength of men who view themselves as more advantageous than women. For instance, Lord Caversham argues that only men have common sense while women don’t have (Wilde, p.86). However, instead of Lady Chiltern getting astonished by the statement, she took Ceversham advice and told her husband to continue with his public duties. This shows that the women in the play are willing to take advantage of the strength of women no matter how overwhelming it is, in order to achieve the good governance.
In conclusion, the play by Wilde has embraced the philosophy of good governance to construct its main themes such as role of the women in the society, and modernity. To understand these themes, it is significant to understand the philosophy of good governance as explained by Laozi. According to Laozi, there are two main qualities of good governance that can help us to derive the meaning of An Ideal Husband by Wilde. These elements include being able to change and ability of a person to depend on factors more than their own. By understanding this element of good governance, one is able to understand why different characters in the play by Wilde make different decision to govern their opinions.
Laozi, and Philip J. Ivanhoe. The Daodejing of Laozi. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co, 2003. Print.
Wilde, Oscar. An Ideal Husband. London: Nick Hern, 1999. Print.