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Written by Braga Lena
Ah, who knows? Who knows that about anybody?
When asked about Gwendolen’s financial status, Mr. Vandernoodt reveals how appearances work in their society. As long as someone is able to maintain the illusion of wealth, everyone around that person will assume that they are rich. But actually no one can tell if a person is in really rich or just leaves the impression they are through opulence. Mr. Vandernoodt describes a society who only cares about appearances and who is inhabited by people wearing masks and playing different roles in order to be accepted.
“People talk of their motives in a cut and dried way. Every woman is supposed to have the same set of motives, or else to be a monster. I am not a monster but I have not felt exactly what other women feel, or say they feel, for fear of being thought unlike others.”
Through this quote, we are presented with what the Victorian society expected of women: they were supposed to all have the same desires and remain within the boundaries set by the men ruling over them. Women had little to no power and those who dared to stand against what was expected of them were regarded as being monsters and thus regarded with suspicion by those around them.
"Why did you marry again, mamma? It would have been nicer if you had not."
Mrs. Davilow coloured deeply, a slight convulsive movement passed over her face, and straightway shutting up the memorials she said, with a violence quite unusual in her—
"You have no feeling, child!"
When Gwendolen asked her mother why she remarried, the reader can easily understand from Mrs. Davilow that maybe her second marriage wasn’t necessarily something she has done willing, but because she had to in order to make sure that her children had what they need. One can see through this the clearest proof that Mrs. Davilow loves her children more than she loves anything because she was willing to sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of her children.
[Daniel's] own face in the glass had during many years been associated for him with thoughts of some one whom he must be like—one about whose character and lot he continually wondered, and never dared to ask.
Daniel was always plagued by the idea that he doesn’t know who he really is. Because of this, he always tried to find some kind of resemblance between him and those around him. This idea suggests that we sometimes built our identity through our family. Because Daniel doesn’t have a group of people with whom he is linked by blood, he feels like he doesn’t fully know who he really is. This quest for finding one’s identity is what ultimately drives Daniel to take many decisions in the book that end influencing his life greatly.
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