Oscar Wilde’s Victorian melodramatic play The Importance of Being Earnest opened on February 14, 1895. Wilde used this play to criticize Victorian society through clever phrasing and satire. Throughout the play The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde displayed the themes of the nature of marriage, the constraints of morality, and the importance of not being earnest. One of the themes that Oscar Wilde includes in the play is the nature of marriage. The idea that marriage is treated as a business is expressly shown by multiple characters. The most recognizable example is Lady Bracknell after she learns that Jack proposed to her daughter, Gwendolen. “Lady Bracknell: I feel bound to tell you that you are not down on my list of eligible young men, …show more content…
Neither the master nor the servant respected the established verticality (Baselga). Not only did Algernon do this with Lane, but he also happened to have a conflict with Jack that is another jab at the Victorian idea of morality: Jack: It is a very ungentlemanly thing to read a private cigarette case. Algernon: Oh! It is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read.” (Wilde 6) Wilde made fun of the Victorian idea of morality as a “rigid body of rules” whose purpose is to tell people what they should and shouldn’t do (Sparknotes, Morality) Wilde’s play offers “rather biting … criticism of the institutions and values that … made Britain the world 's greatest colonial power …show more content…
For instance, Lady Bracknell’s hypocritical nature is exposed when the topic of marriage is brought up. “Lady Bracknell: But I do not approve of mercenary marriages. When I married Lord Bracknell, I had no fortune of any kind. But I never dreamed for a moment of allowing that to stand in my way (Wilde 78).” She is being a hypocrite because her marriage to Lord Bracknell was mainly because of his money. In addition, Lady Bracknell encouraged Cecily to marry Algernon because of money alone, but that wasn’t enough for Jack to marry Gwendolen (Litcharts, Hypocrisy). However, after she discovered Jack was in fact well-born she no longer questioned his sincerity. Also, the issue on who was really “Ernest” was another form of hypocrisy. “Neither Jack nor Algernon is ‘really’ earnest or Ernest, and the fact that they can both become Ernest, one by a late baptism and one by reverting to an identity lost in infancy, suggests that their being seen as or deemed earnest is as much a matter of appearance and acceptance as their being deemed Ernest, that is, a matter of hypocrisy (Byrne
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In Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People”, O’Connor utilizes the relationship of Mrs. Hopewell and her daughter, Joy, or Hulga, as a representation and critique of the lack of self-awareness in society. To do so, O’Connor presents the sense of superiority each character possesses over the other, resulting them to not question their own self. In doing so, O’Connor challenges the common perceptions of society in never questioning one’s self, leading hypocrisy to become rapid amongst individuals. Through examining the relationship between the characters of Mrs. Hopewell and Hulga in regards to: both characters viewing themselves to be dissimilar, their sense of superiority over the other, the ironic similarity they share, and their hypocrisy,
Upon discovering her husband’s true identity and recognizing the gravity of the situation she has placed him in, Lady Blakeney becomes a sympathetic character. Previously, she was quite unlikable due to her blatant dislike for her husband and the cold pride she openly displays. It is not until
Before the modern era, marriage in the Western civilization was commonly a form of business to unite houses and prevent future wars, but, as the times changed, marriage became a form of commitment and a pledge between two lovers. A trend in the 1950s veered away from this belief, which resulted in loveless marriages. Mavis Gallant, the author of The Other Paris, uses a mocking tone and detailed character descriptions to criticize the socially required marriages of the 1950s. Gallant creates a mocking tone by contrasting romantic allusion and realistic diction to ridicule the reveal the lack of coordination and love in the marriage proposals.
In Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, and Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens, two proposals, despite their few effective lines, end up being horrendously uneffective. In the first, William Collins proposes to Elizabeth Bennett, and in the latter, Bradley Headstone-his last name, which he will need after he dies from the painful embarrassment of his rejection- proposes to Lizzie Hexam. What makes a marriage proposal successful is a display of commitment, intimacy, and passion- though not too much or too little of any one factor! A lack of one or more of these factors, which both proposals are guilty of, will lead the proposer down the path of one of the main struggles of wooing: rejection. Both men do make one or two seemingly effective statements.
My views concerning others’ interpretation of this topic changed drastically after reading Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, as I began to note the unsettling similarities between the satirized society of Victorian England,
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife” (Austen, 2014). Comparing the similarities and differences between the marriage proposals of Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy’s first in Pride and Prejudice to Jane Austen’s heroic figure. Elizabeth Bennet does not agree with the ‘importance’ of marrying as quickly as possible to secure her future without keeping her own feelings in mind, making her a strong and different woman than were expected to act and behave during that specific time. Both the addressers are extremely condescending to Elizabeth.
As a result, when Mrs. Bennet says “My dear, you flatter me. I certainly have had my share of beauty, but I do not pretend to be anything extraordinary now (ch. 1 pg.11),” we can conclude that she is the type of parent that would judge someone else by their appearance, considering that she seems quite vain in this particular quote. Mrs. Bennet cares only about marrying her daughters away to a wealthy individual. This is very similar to the first paragraph we discussed, about how a family views marriage.
Marriage in the 1700s and 1800s was judged by those closest to and the society that surrounded the couple which caused great strain within families. Both novels consult the idea of suitable matches and how love was valued above money and status. In an era filled with deep class prejudice, it was easier to marry someone from your own class as a woman since marrying below it was deeply frowned upon while marrying above provided its own issues which are explored in Pamela. If a woman did not have a substantial dowry, such as money or property, potential husbands from good families were unlikely. Pamela, for example, was an educated girl but yet she was still a servant with a family that has little to offer due to her father’s declined fortunes.
Often times unfair expectations are placed upon people who have a hard time conforming to society. In the novel Catherine Earnshaw must choose between her adolescent love Heathcliff and the man trying to court her, Edgar Linton. Bronte illustrates this struggle on page 78 where Catherine cries, “I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn’t have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he’s handsome Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am.”
Elizabeth Bennet, the second of five daughters, is an intelligent, headstrong woman who detests the idea of marriage being a mere economic contract. Elizabeth adamantly rejects Darcy’s first proposal of marriage. Despite the affluent lifestyle and economic security Darcy would be able to offer Elizabeth, she still refuses his proposal on the grounds that he is egocentric, impudent and uncivil. This reproach to Darcy prompts him to reform his character and after a series of events, Elizabeth soon begins to see Darcy for the moral man he really
To begin, the proposed marriage between Catherine Heathcliff and Hareton Earnshaw demonstrates that only those who put aside the prejudices that they hold towards others will be able to achieve personal growth and happiness. For example, in the initial phases of Catherine and Hareton’s relationship, Catherine makes fun of Hareton for his attempts at learning how to read. When Hareton excitedly says to Catherine that “[he] can read yon, now” (Brontё 210), she
The satirical piece of literature, “The Importance of Being Earnest”, takes place in the Victorian Era, “when an intricate code of behavior governed everything from communication to sexuality.” (shmoop.com). During the Victorian age, all marriages were connected to social status, matched economics, and to protect their own resources. This idea can be shown in “The Importance of Being Earnest” through Lady Bracknell. This satire is written to awaken people and to try to remind people not to value bloodlines instead of true love when deciding upon your marriage partner.
Morality and The Picture of Dorian Gray “The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.” C.G. Jung The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, was first published in 1890, right in the middle of the Victorian Era, an era that was characterized by its conservatism. Ever since, and due to the content of the book, it has been condemned as immoral. Furthermore, on 1891, Wilde published a preface protecting his book from public punishment in which he said “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.
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.
As a matter of fact most frequently critics have looked at how prejudicial her mother’s philosophies have been for our character, and attributed to Editha Mowbray the “fallness” of her daughter. In her essay “The return of the prodigal daughter” Joanne Tong contemplates how “Mrs. Mowbray pays too little rather than too much attention to her daughter” (2004: 475) the outcome of which is a misunderstanding of her position in society with regards to the strict laws of etiquette and feminine ideology in eighteenth century England. Cecily E. Hill also blames Editha for Adeline and Glenmurray’s extramarital affair and their inevitable moral condemnation, and instead of accusing the lovers she sees Editha as the soul villain of the novel. Contrary to the typical concept of a mother who provides a safe education to Adeline, she experiments with dubious theories that ultimately foreground her daughter’s tragic