An Ideal Husband opens during party at the home of Lord and Lady Chiltern. Sir Robert Chiltern, a prestigious member of the House of Commons. Unknown to most of the crowd, Sir Robert has built his fortune on a single dishonest act. During the party, Mrs. Cheveley, a former schoolmate of Lady Chiltern, attempts to blackmail Sir Robert in order to drive him to support a fraudulent scheme to build a canal in Argentina. In the face of this blackmail, Sir Robert not only fears the loss of his status in the House of Lords, but also the loss of his wife. He then asks Lord Goring, the ne'er-do-well son of the Earl of Caversham, for advice. Lord Goring, familiar (in several ways) with Mrs Cheveley, ultimately saves Chiltern's marriage and social position.