The Importance of Being Earnest

Feminism in Wilde's World: Empowered Women in 'The Importance of Being Earnest' College

Throughout history, women were perceived as inferior to men socially, economically, and intellectually. In modern society, the majority of people would call out this statement for its blatant misogyny and inequality. However, such a claim would define gender roles during the Victorian era, especially if the woman was a widow or unmarried. Only married women held merit and even so, they needed to be submissive to their husbands. This was an accepted norm in Victorian society until Oscar Wilde wrote The Importance of Being Earnest in 1895, which both challenges and mocks said society through the identity of Ernest. Jack takes on this character to win the affection of Gwendolen, yet he is unaware that Algernon is doing the same for Cecily, resulting in a ridiculous love triangle all for the sake of appearances and marriage. In satirizing marriage, he simultaneously satirizes gender roles, in which marriage was the most paramount aspect of life for a woman in order to wield any power. In the play, Wilde defies gender roles by empowering women, regardless of their marital status, while illustrating men as the weaker of the two.

The most obvious choice for an example of would be Lady Bracknell, since she practically embodies female...

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