Oscar Wilde Character Analysis

Decent Essays

Throughout the play, in defiance to the stereotypical role that women are passive, Cecily shows traits of being direct and forward with her emotions and her desires. When Algernon confesses his love to her, she says “You silly boy! Of course. Why, we have been engaged for the last three months” (32, Wilde). When Algernon asks her how they became engaged and how it was settled, Cecily answers saying “On the 14th of February last. Worn out by your entire ignorance of my existence, I determined to end the matter one way or the other, and after a long struggle with myself I accepted you under this dear old tree here. The next day I bought this little ring in your name, and this is the little bangle with the true lover’s knot I promised …show more content…

Additionally, defiance of norms can be seen through the addition of passion in Gwendolen’s character. In the New York Times Article Victorian Woman, Including Victoria by Pauline Maier, she writes, “Victorian men were said to be self-sufficient, aggressive, even animalistic, while women were the opposite - dependent, passive, loving but without passion” (Maier). In Act 1, Gwendolen defies this norm by expressing her passion to the name Earnest “Gwendolen. It suits you perfectly. It is a divine name. It has a music of its own. It produces vibrations” (11, Wilde). This quote shows Wilde showcasing Gwendolen’s passion, a trait she should stereotypically not have. Just by hearing the name Earnest, Gwendolen experiences vibrations. The phrase is almost sexual, oozing passion from Gwendolen and thus, opposing the stereotypical Victorian trait of women.
Even though Cecily and Gwendolen have not been set up by society to be powerful characters, they often exert power over the men in the play. In the Victorian world, the stereotypical characteristics of a male revolved around power, strength, responsibility, and have a strong influence over the women in their lives. However in Wilde’s play, the female characters, Gwendolen and Cecily hold a lot of the power and influence over their respective partners, Jack and Algernon. Instead of being dominant and masculine, Jack and Algernon comically make bad choices, are irresponsible, and passive to their love

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