Gender Roles In Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest

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Oscar Wilde’s satirical play The Importance of Being Earnest, set in the late Victorian era, London, is a portrayal of British upper class society and its conventions surrounded by a strict code of conduct. In 1890’s class society, earnestness was desired; to follow the moral code and social obligations in order to keep up one’s appearance. Besides, there was a huge gender disparity between men and women. In the play, Wilde criticizes the social inequality and Victorian upper class standards. He characterizes Victorian personae making fun of their qualities; hypocrisy, arrogance and absurdism, ultimately the very vital state and lifeline of not being earnest at all in Victorian society.

Wilde’s representation of the British upper class, its values and opinions, is presented most notably through Lady Augusta Bracknell. She is a dignified aristocratic residing fashionable London society circles. On the surface, she is very typical Victorian woman. As a mother to Gwendolen Fairfax, she has a great authority over her controlling her life. She has even a list of ”eligible young man” whom she is ready to interview in order to select a suitable partner for her daughter. In addition to this, the importance of marriage and its delicacy in the Victorian era is expressed through
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In the Victorian era, gender inequality was daily life. Men were most often the dominant power in a relationship whereas women were expected to be pure and innocent. In an era of arranged marriages, women belonged to their husbands and were attached to their households. However, Wilde has questioned these gender roles and created rather independent and powerful female characters in the play. Though Lady Bracknell and Jack have to give their consent as an approval of marriage to their wards, Gwendolen and Cecily, women show dominance over men in each relationship. Men in the other hand don’t play an active role in the setting of
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