The Importance Of Being Earnest And An Ideal Husband

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Victorian literature was composed from roughly 1830-1900 under the reign of Queen Victoria of England. It is most often characterized by the hypocrisy of the social stratosphere and the precedence of good over evil. Victorian author Oscar Wilde, however, challenged the bounds of typical Victorian literature and ultimately “opened the door for the development of modernism” (Gutierrez-Folch). Two of his works, The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband, portray Wilde’s ideas and attitudes toward Victorian literature in a satirical manner, encouraging audiences to recognize a deceptive society under Queen Victoria’s rule. The era of Victorian literature came on the wings of the diminishing Romantic period. Poetry about nature and abstract …show more content…
She is portrayed as stuffy and arrogant, with a great distaste for Jack that she takes no measure to hide. When Jack makes known his plan to marry her daughter, she refuses on the basis that Jack does not know his family’s true place on the societal ladder, as he was orphaned. In Act I, she confronts Jack saying, “I would strongly advise you, Mr. Worthing, to try and acquire some relations as soon as possible” (The Importance of Being Earnest 24) and soon after stating, “You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter…to marry into a cloak-room, and form an alliance with a parcel” (The Importance of Being Earnest 24-25). Lady Bracknell will only allow her daughter’s hand in marriage to a list of suitors she has personally approved, and Jack’s lack of familial status is appalling to her. The embodiment of Lady Bracknell’s character mocks the Victorian characteristics of superiority and social standing by exaggerating them through her condescension towards Jack and his …show more content…
Although hypocritical, the era was concerned with manners and morality. Mrs. Chevely, a supporting character, explains the importance of Sir Robert’s image to society in Act I Part 3, stating, “Nowadays, with our modern mania for morality, everyone has to pose as a paragon of purity, incorruptibility, and all the other seven deadly virtues – and what is the result? You all go over like ninepins – one after the other” (An Ideal Husband ). Mrs. Chevely reinforces the idea of false perfection. The Victorian society was infatuated with perfection, whether by appearance, social status, or morale; however, through this infatuation people became corrupt trying to ultimately attain such an impeccable image. Such corruptibility is mocked by Wilde through Sir Robert’s hypocrisy and Lady Chiltern’s need for a prestige

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