Wilde's Views on Women in The Importance of Being Earnest. This essay is my first draft on the topic of how women are viewed in this play.

Essay by hitman99University, Bachelor's February 2003

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"The Importance of Being Earnest" was written by the famous Irish author Oscar Wilde. The play represents Wilde´s late Victorian view of the aristocracy, marriage, wit and social life during the early 1900's. His characters are typical Victorian snobs who are arrogant, overly proper, formal and concerned with money. The women are portrayed as sheltered, uneducated, and some as dominating figures over the men in their lives. There is no sense of identity for Cecily and Gwendolen, the only woman within the play that clearly stands out is the Governess, Lady Bracknell.

Wilde creates Lady Bracknell to represent society during the 1900's. Her tone is always earnest: she is arrogant and she speaks in commands, judgements, and pronouncements. She is always serious and authoritative, being the adult figure in the play; she imposes the rules and authority. However much of what she says is ridiculous, hypocritical, or self-contradictory.

Lady Bracknell contradicts herself when she wonders about the possibility of Algernon and Cecily getting married and she does not agree with mercenary marriages, but she herself married into the same situation. "But I do not approve of mercenary marriages. When I married Lord Bracknell I had no fortune of any kind." (604). Lady Bracknell is always thinking of money when it comes down to these circumstances. If Algernon and Cecily get married, they will share her considerable amount of wealth. "A hundred and thirty thousand pounds! And in Funds! Miss Cardew seems to me a most attractive young lady, now that I look at her." (604). She also finds long engagements not acceptable as, "They give the people opportunity of finding out each other's character before marriage," (605). Lady Bracknell has this idea of making someone look something that they are really not. As long as you look...