Academic Master


The Analysis Of Robert Chiltern’s Speech On The Canal Project

Sir Robert Chiltern is a character in Oscar Wilde’s comedy, “An Ideal Husband.” Chiltern is a young politician in an English country. At one point in time, he was an assistant to the cabinet, and while in this position, he leaked government information to a foreign investor for a fee, and he instantly became rich. Chiltern rises on the political ladder with a remarkable reputation, and in the meantime, the foreign investor passes away; therefore, he thinks that no one knows how he became wealthy.

However, this investor disclosed the information to his female friend, Mrs. Cheveley. Mrs. Cheveley made a massive investment in a canal project that was proposed to be built in Argentina. She presents the proposal to parliament and blackmails Chiltern to create a false report on the construction of the canal, or else she will disclose his secret and bring disgrace to him in public. Chiltern is given the responsibility of doing an investigation on the project, where Cheveley contacts him, promises him an amount of money and conceals the evidence she has if he reports in favour of the plan.

Despite all these threats, Sir Robert Chiltern opted to give a speech in parliament, actively opposing the construction of the canal. Despite the fact that he knows that this will lead to the loss of his integrity and job, he still firmly opposes the canal project. Chiltern’s purpose in giving this speech is to ensure that the project is not taken up and to inform people that the project is a plan for stealing from the government and gaining self-interest.

The audience of Chiltern is primarily the parliament. He brings to attention the need for leaders in the government to serve the people genuinely and honestly rather than carrying out schemes that are detrimental to the economy for their selfish interests. He also aims at greedy investors to tell them to cease their corrupt investment plans.

Chiltern uses some persuasive language skills. He asserts the fact that he has done enough research on the project and that he knows every detail of it and, therefore, has enough information to determine whether the project is worth carrying out. The assertion of his knowledge of the project may be termed as the use of ethos as he tries to convince his audience that his rejection of the plan is not out of self-interest but somewhat out of research and factual information. Pathos is expressed in lines such as, “I have had the opportunity to investigate this scheme more thoroughly…”. He influences the thoughts of his audience by showing his interest in the affairs of the country and his aspirations for a better state and a better people in the future. He expresses the importance of maintaining the commercial power of the nation and the need to uphold integrity concerning this project. He shifts the minds of his listeners from the immediate results to a broader perspective in the future.

Another useful device is pathos. The method of pathos is expressed in part of the speech in such lines as “Our involvement would be a political fraud…”. This style is used efficiently to bring to light the detrimental effects that will result from allowing the canal project to be carried out. Sir Robert states that this will not only be morally wrong, but it will also lead to the decline of the nation as a whole.

Finally, the technique of rhetoric has been efficiently employed in Chiltern’s speech. He uses an unopposed commanding language. It is brought out in lines such as, “And the only remedy that I can see is to strike back and to strike now!” This compels his audience to take action in favour of what he advocates. He stirs up the emotions of the audience on the urgency of standing against the canal project.

The audience of Chiltern has no idea about Chiltern’s past life and how he acquired his wealth, and Chiltern, on the other hand, does not confess his corrupt actions in the past. The parliament was, therefore, convinced to support him and cancel the canal project in Argentina.

I selected this speech just because it deals with the moral aspect of society on standing for the right. Moral uprightness in making decisions in the community is indeed depreciating today. The speech brings out the fact that despite the fact that we might have fallen in the past, we can change our ways and stand for what is right. The fact that we failed in the past does not guarantee us to perpetuate our vices into the future.

Works Cited

Robert, Chiltern.”AnIdealHusband”1999.



Calculate Your Order

Standard price





Pop-up Message