Gender in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ Essay

Dramatic comedy originated in Ancient Greece in fifth century BC. centred around loose secret plan lines and working certain state of affairss through lampoon. travesty and jeer. Comedy started developing in fourth Century BC where intricate secret plan lines were introduced. normally based around love and love affair and normally climaxing in a satisfactory and happy declaration. This is much like the construction of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ as the drama revolves around the turning relationships of both Jack and Gwendolen and Algernon and Cecily. Oscar Wilde has reversed the functions of gender in this drama. the females are those who take the lead and are seen as the most dominant characters throughout – a really eccentric layout in a clip period where work forces were seen as the caput of the household and the most self-asserting figure. Lady Bracknell is the most domineering character throughout the drama. and this a consequence of the eloquent and instead unnatural linguistic communication she uses. She takes on the function of her hubby in Act 1 when Jack asks for Gwendolen’s manus in marriage- “I feel obliged to state you that you are non down on my list of eligible immature men” this was frequently the father’s function.

Throughout the conversation it is rather evident that Lady Bracknell holds all the power. and Wilde does this through all the inquiries she asks. Additionally. her oppugning seems instead irrelevant and pathetic at times. she asks “Do you smoke? ” to which Jack admits he does and Lady Bracknell replies “I am glad to hear it. A adult male should ever hold an business of some kind” . Here the habit-forming wont that Jack has taken up is being compared to a profession and is making humour due to the nature of the inquiry and how much evident importance it holds. It seems as though Wilde is utilizing Lady Bracknell to “mock those in authority” [ 1 ] by showing her as a character with no existent docket to her long and painful oppugning – other than to speak. In Act 3. Lady Bracknell makes another visual aspect. which merely highlights her looming force in the drama.

She has come to Jack’s house in the state to recover Gwendolen and take her place and makes it rather clear that her hubby does non cognize where Gwendolen truly is “Her unhappy male parent is. I am glad to state. under the feeling that she is go toing a more than drawn-out talk by the University Extension Scheme on the influence of a lasting income on Thought. I do non suggest to undeceive him. ” This would hold been seen as rather unusual at a clip where married womans wouldn’t have gone behind their husband’s dorsums. therefore reenforcing Lady Bracknell’s important demeanor and go forthing the audience amused.

Furthermore. Wilde’s portraitures of both Gwendolen and Cecily run parallel to one another. They mirror each other and are the self-asserting half of their relationships with Jack and Algernon. This is first shown between Jack and Gwendolen when Jack proposes. Jack announces his love for Gwendolen and she in bend. offers it back. Jack so says “ . . I mean we must acquire married at one time. There is no clip to be lost. ” To which Gwendolen answers “…But you haven’t proposed to me yet. Nothing has been said at all about matrimony. ” Gwendolen is taking control of the state of affairs and is showing what she desires – for Jack to so allow her. her wants. This is the same scene where Jack lies about his name one time once more to Gwendolen. “Selfishness and obsequiousness are the moral options presented” – Katherine Worth. Gwendolen admits she could ne’er love anyone with the name ‘Jack’ for “there is really small music in the name Jack” . This. to the audience seems instead grandiloquent and shallow and is why it is humourous. And after all that Gwendolen has said. Jack does so travel along with this though. and continues to name himself Ernest.

In the scene where Cecily and Algernon foremost meet. Algernon besides lies about his true individuality – he introduces himself as Jack’s brother. Ernest. Whilst Cecily and Algernon are speaking in the garden. Jack arrives place. He confides in Miss Prism and Chasuble that his younger brother ‘Ernest’ died in Paris of a terrible iciness. At this minute in clip. the audience are taking great pleasance at the fact that they know something the characters do non – that Jack’s so called brother is in the garden. Afterwards. Cecily confesses to Algernon that they have been engaged for the past three months. and Algernon deferentially accepts this to be both true and normal. This is the first indicant of who the most self-asserting figure is in their relationship. The fact that Cecily writes to herself. on the behalf of ‘Ernest’ is instead pathetic. and one time once more Algernon goes through with this.

She continues on to state him when their battle was broken off. she says “It would barely hold been a truly serious battle if it hadn’t have been broken off at least one time. But I forgave you before the hebdomad was out” she talks about how their battle wouldn’t have been ‘serious’ . although it had ne’er even happened and this displays matrimony to be non all that serious in itself. In answer to this. Algernon thanks her for forgiving him – for something he did non make. “What a perfect angel you are Cecily. ” This lone high spots that he is inferior to her.

When Cecily and Gwendolen meet each other at Jacks house in the state. a batch of confusion is caused for they both think they are engaged to the same adult male. But before they stumble across this realization. they become ‘friends’ immediately Gwendolen says “ . . Something Tells me that we are traveling to be great friends” to which Cecily replies “How nice have you to wish me so much after we have known each other such a relatively short sum of clip. ” The misss so find out they are ‘in competition’ with one another and their ‘friendship’ turns rancid. This is amusing due to the fact that merely a few seconds ago they were really friendly and lovely to one another.

When both Jack and Algernon attack and the affair is cleared up that neither one of them is ‘Ernest’ and that they have been lying to the adult females. Cecily and Gwendolen’s relationship takes a u-turn. non back to friendly relationship. but to sisterhood. This was foreshadowed in Act 1 where Algernon says “Women merely call themselves sister when they have called each other a batch of other things first” . Cecily and Gwendolen ramp off into the house and Algernon and Jack cowardly hold back. where Algy begins to jeer the gems and they start to fault one another for what merely happened and it takes them a piece before they approach the adult females in the house. However when they do it besides doesn’t take long for both adult females to forgive them. they contradict themselves often in the procedure: Gwendolen – “ But we will non talk first”

Cecily – “Certainly not”
Gwendolen – “Mr Worthing. I have something really peculiar to inquire you. Much depends on your answer. ” The sarcasm of the state of affairs is what is so amusive. the adult females can non remain soundless and delay for the work forces to talk. one time once more they have to be in control of the state of affairs. However. the drama began in “turmoil but ( ended ) in harmony” [ 2 ] as both twosomes were merrily reunited.

All throughout the drama. adult females like to believe they are the leaders and the superior. and on the surface they do look to be. with their high demands being answered and ever taking the conversations in which of all time manner they wish but at the terminal of the twenty-four hours. they ever forgive or accept merely what a adult male can offer. even if they demanded more.

[ 1 ] Barbara Bleiman. Anna Sarchet and Lucy Webster: “Studying comedy” ( 2012 ) [ 2 ] Susan Snyder: “The Cambridge comrade to Shakespeare” ( 2001 )