The relationship between Jack and Gwendolen undergoes a parody. Gwendolen laughs when Jack asks how she might feel if his name is not Earnest. "Ah, that is clearly a metaphysical speculation", she says, "and like all metaphysical speculation, has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life, as we know them."(18) This remark of Gwendolen exactly fits the general theme of the play, but in fact the joke is directed to her. Yet at the end of the play, Gwendolen's conviction that she will marry an Earnest and her faith in the name are justified- we understand that Jack's true name is Earnest. The effect
The idea of marriage that is presented in the play differs from what we see marriage as
During the early 1800s, marriage was seen as a fortification of wealth and power through the unification of two families instead of a declaration of endearment, as reflected through the materialistic marriage customs in the Antebellum South. Generally, a man’s parents designated a future spouse for their son, based off of a woman’s familial ties and financial stature, due to the economic ramifications that the marriage had upon each party involved (O’Neil). Although financial characteristics of the bride’s family were primarily the deciding factor, men typically prefered to marry a compliant woman with “piety, purity, submissiveness and domesticity” (Fontin), considering that the gender roles at the time denounced women with ambitious or assertive
Men, in the 19th century did not have respect for women. After the marriage, the women was consider as a "toy" and as an "animal" to men. "Essentially, the wife "belonged" to her husband. He had a right to the person and prosperity of his wife; he could use gentle restraint upon her liberty to prevent improper conduct, he could beat her without fear of persecution. Thus, it was very clear that the wife is dead in law"-Barbara Welter, The American Woman. Women had to suffer all this treatment because it was their choice. They would get marry and be financially secured or they would be single and support themselves. Most of them choose the first choice because; working was worse then some
During the mid 1800’s, commonly referred to as the Victorian Period, social hierarchy was an enormously profound aspect of European societies. Therefore, arranged marriage and the desire to “move up” on the social ladder was a common pursuit. Throughout the text, it becomes apparent that Wilde strongly opposes this concept, as he includes several power-struggles between Lady Bracknell and the younger generation based on their conflicting desires. To expand, Lady Bracknell insists that “An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself” (Wilde 16-17). This quotation reinforces the fact
This idea of superficiality is later magnified by the evidence that Wilde gives proving Algernon and Jack to not be at all earnest. Wilde takes advantage of the name Ernest and makes it a pun, as both women have the logic that a man named Ernest must be earnest. Wilde ensures the audience knows this and uses this pun to create irony, as many times Algernon and Jack are presented as morally askew, and not at all earnest. On the subject of Bunburying, Algernon says “in married life. Three is company and two is none.” Which states his view on having two different lives, and this is seemingly how he justifies him lying, as he sees cheating as a normal part of married life. There is also the matter of Jack and Algernon’s acceptance of them having to change their names to be able to marry Gwendolen and Cecily. Of course, lying about their names in the first place is a clear indication that Jack and Algernon are not very honourable, but their acceptance of the fact that Gwendolen and Cecily would not have accepted their proposals if their real names had been revealed presents Jack and Algernon as characters who aren’t bothered by the prospect of lying to their wives for their entire lives.
They would much rather just marry a guy named Ernest. Gwendolen makes it increasingly obvious that marrying an Ernest is the most important thing to her. “Jack? ...No, there is very little music in the name Jack, if any at all, indeed. It does not thrill. It produces absolutely no vibrations...I have known several Jacks, and they all, without exception, were more than usually plain. Besides, Jack is a notorious domesticity for John! And I pity any woman who is married to a man called John. She would probably never be allowed to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment’s solitude. The only really safe name is Ernest.” she says after Jack tries to tell her that his name is not Ernest, but she ends up rendering the feat impossible by showing us that she is just so in love that it is a resonating sound that rings from the name Ernest that rocks her to the core with vibrations. Cecily is no different, after an extensive conversation with Algernon about whether or not she actually likes the name Algernon(she didn’t), she says to him “I might respect you, Ernest, I might admire your character, but I fear that I should not be able to give you my undivided attention.” Cecily’s character is there to mirror Gwendolen, just as Algernon is to mirror Jack, so to speak, she also expresses very little care for anything other than the name of Ernest. Algernon and Jack are left with no other
Each of the female characters is determined to marry a guy named Earnest. Gwendolen Fairfax with the social gracefulness of the Victorian Era with the help of her mother Lady Bracknell are intensely determined to continue the Victorian lifestyle of social prominence by marring Earnest.
Gwendolyn and Cecily act as friends until they learn that they are supposedly engaged to the same person. Then they learn neither of them are engaged to anybody named Ernest, and are friends again. In act three, we discover Jacks history, including that he is Algernon's elder brother. In the end, despite several lies, arguments, and much turmoil, everybody gets married.
Many people believe that marriage is important in this day and age, but it holds little significance compared to the importance of marriage in the Victorian era. In the Victorian era women were to get married to a man of the same or a better social status, be good wives, and be a mother to her husband's children. Very few marriages started with love, but a woman's life is not complete without being married. Over time, the role of married women has evolved a great deal and they now have rights and privileges. John Stuart Mill was one of the great thinkers of the Victorian era, and his essay The Subjection of Women tells how few privileges women had and that they were slaves to their husbands. He also says that women are their own people and
It was highly moral for a man to have a family and to be current in marriage; it boosts up his image and role in society. A man, who has been out of marriage for too long, is seen as idle. Wilde presents two characters, Algernon and Jack, who have a dispute whether marriage is silly or not. It suggests that not every Victorian man were keen on the idea of marriage. In the Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde displays a
Their limited education consisted of needlework, fine handwriting, singing, dancing, playing piano, and reading (3). Marriage at this time was the only thing that could give a woman any sense of security. If their fathers were to die, it was custom that only the eldest son could inherit the money and property. Unfortunately, if the family did not have a male son the land would be given to the closet male relative, which left the women in a very delicate position. Austen show’s readers this aspect of her society by having the Bennet sisters in the same situation. Without a male sibling their land and home will be entailed to a Mr. Collins. If Mr. Bennet were to die, his five daughters and his wife would be left homeless or at the charity of others because Mr. Collins would not have it in his heart to let them reside in the house with him. Their only way to escape this fate would be to get married. However, there was many obstacles that middle class young women had to deal with that kept young suitors uninterested. One was their social station. The society of this time was so stratified that even one class could be broken down into more distinctions of rank (2). The people did not often marry outside of their social rank, which left middle class women with middle class men. Unfortunately, money also played a big part in the determination of whether
Satire, in which Wilde places throughout the dialogue, is used to deride Victorian age concept of marriage and exhibit the theme to the audience. This is evident when Wilde addresses how Gwendolen and Cecily refuse to marry a man if their names were not
“Pardon me, you are not engaged to anyone. When you do become engaged to someone, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself” (Wilde, 622). Lady Bracknell’s harsh criticism and stubborn ways are customary of upper-class mothers in the era. Ironically enough, Algernon later develops a kind of forbidden love. The object of his affection is young and being taught to be unimaginative and serious.
* Victorians were encouraged to marry within the same class (remember the views on social mobility!). They could marry up, but to marry down meant