Essay on Gender and Consistency in "The Importance of Being Earnest"

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The Importance of Being Earnest is regarded as one of the most successful plays written by Oscar Wilde, a great 19th century playwright. Oscar Wilde deals with something unique about his contemporary age in this drama. It addresses Victorian social issues, French theatre, farce, social drama and melodrama. All these factors influenced the structure of the play in a large scale. This play is basically a Victorian satirical drama showcasing the social, political, economic and religious structural changes that affected 18th century England. It was the time when British Empire had captured most part of the world including Oscar Wilde’s homeland, Ireland. The aristocrats of England had become dominant over the middle and poor class people and…show more content…
Wilde has beautifully portrayed the characters of the play and they remain alive in each act of this drama. However, their sense of purpose and values remain foggy and highly confusing till the end of the play. When we read this play, we see that the dramatist portrays each character to depict the hypocrisy of the contemporary Victorian society. Wilde deals with the inconsistency of nature of men here. None of the male characters are serious in life or earnest in nature. There is lack of moral values in each character. The characters contradict themselves most of the time. Jack, the protagonist of the play, throws out all Victorian values even though he represents the model Victorian man and aristocratic English people. Through his characterization and portrayal of inconsistent characters, Wilde satirizes upon the English society and the hypocrisy prevalent in the Victorian era. However, the female characters depicted in the play are much more consistent and seem to follow the general ideals of marriage and love, as was evident in 18th century England. Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew are in love and they want to get married as marriage seems to provide the essential social security that was needed by women in the Victorian era. Through the interactions between the female and male characters, Wilde portrays the inconsistencies of 18th century England. In this play hypocrisy is exposed by the protagonist, Jack Worthing’s character and ironic statements. He is

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