Men And Women In Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband

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The play An Ideal Husband was written by Oscar Wilde in 1895 in England’s Victorian era. This era was characterised by sexual anarchy amongst men and women where the stringent boundaries that delineated the roles of both men and women were continually being challenged by threatening figures such as the New Woman represented by Mrs Cheveley and dandies such as Lord Goring(Showalter, 3). An Ideal Husband ultimately affirms Lord Goring’s notions about the inequality of the sexes because of the evident limitations placed on the mutability of identity for female characters versus their male counterparts (Madden, 5). These limitations will be further elaborated upon in the context of the patriarchal aspects of Victorian society which contributed to the failed attempts of blackmail by Mrs Cheveley, the manner in which women are trapped by their past and their delineated role of an “angel of truth and goodness” (Powell, 89). The play further affirms Goring’s…show more content…
The New Woman represented independent women who were generally unmarried and strove towards social and economic emancipation. They lay emphasis on criticising society’s assertion that marriage is the only end to which all women should strive to. Mrs Cheveley reflects the New Woman as she fearlessly enters London society unaccompanied and prepared to partake in politics, more particularly the blackmail of Sir Robert Chiltern. This kind of venture is singular for a woman at the time where their roles were relegated to catering to the needs of their husbands and their children, not rivalling men in the intellectual realm or threatening the stability of spousal love as Mrs Cheveley did. However despite the singularity of her courageous venture outside the delineated role of a women it is more stigmatised as opposed to the
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