Gender in 'a Doll's House' & the Importance of Being Ernest'

2001 Words Mar 22nd, 2005 9 Pages
How Is Gender Represented In ‘A Doll's House' And ‘The Importance Of Being Earnest'?

A Doll's House and The Importance of Being Earnest were both written in the late nineteenth century at a period in time when gender roles in society were not only significant to the structure of society but were restrictive and oppressive to individuals. This was particularly true in the case of women who were seen as the upholders of morals in polite society and were expected to behave accordingly. A Doll's House and The Importance of Being Earnest challenge society and its inclination to categorise and expect certain behaviour of individuals based on their gender.
In its historical context A Doll's House was a radical play which forced its audience
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A successful individual is judged largely on whether they have fulfilled the expectations of their gender. A man who was dominated by his wife or an unmarried woman, for example would not command respect from society. The marital home in A Doll's House is greatly affected by outside influences and what people will think of what is happening inside. Likewise a marriage or an individual performs how it believes is appropriate in reaction to the gender constructions and expectations of society.
As Ibsen demonstrates the inclination of individuals to live their life as a performance for society by complying with society's gender constructions, so Wilde addresses this issue in The Importance of Being Earnest. Wilde's communicates this by creating characters who do not display typical traits of what was expected of their gender and position in Victorian society. The Importance of Being Earnest mocks society for the pressure on individuals to act in accordance with gender expectations.
Wilde dismisses the need for individuals to acquiesce to convention by ridiculing and belittling the performance of gender roles in particular situations, for example the interview between Lady Bracknell and Jack over his eligibility to marry Gwendolen. Typically this is a situation which would be
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