Sir Charles Easy has grown bored of his lovely wife, and has turned to a life of infidelity. Maids and noblewomen are equally charmed by him, and he embarks on affair after affair, carelessly pursuing pleasure above all. Of course, Lady Easy is well aware of her husband’s dalliances, but she is too virtuous to confront him. When Sir Charles’ friend Lord Morelove arrives at their home in Windsor in pursuit of the vain and proud Lady Betty Modish, Sir Charles determines to help his friend win his love by throwing a party. Sir Charles’ home turns into a social pressure cooker as they’re joined by his mistress, Lady Graveairs, and the foolish dandy Lord Foppington. While Morelove and Lady Betty engage in a war of flirtation, Lady Easy finally catches Chalres in an egregious act of infidelity, and he is convinced to turn over a new leaf and reform into the devoted husband that she deserves.
Although it shares many similar themes and plot points with Cibber’s other major work Love’s Last Shift, The Careless Husband is widely considered to be his most successful play. This work’s exploration of the power dynamics between men and women remains one of its most enduring qualities, and made it a repertory standard for much of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Careless Husband guide sections