The Importance of being Earnest Reputation

Lady Bracknell rejection of Jacks proposal

  • Lady Bracknell rejects Jacks proposal to Gwendolen due to his orphany

"To marry into a cloakroom and form an alience with a parcel"

  • She objectifies him through regarding to him through the noun "parcel", she is dehumanising him throughout that metaphor it shows how she no longer sees him as a signigivant person or of a repsectable status
  • This links to the Victorian view that the upper class were more moral than others this is seen through the play

"If the lower orders dont set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them"

  • Wilde uses this inversion to saterize the ridiculous nature of Victorian moral beliefs and the class divide
  • Wilde uses Lady Bracknell to show the shallow nature of the upper classses concerning the significance of the lower class and their obsession with reputation 
  • Could use in other essays on Lady Bracknell, on inversions (make a link to the first part and Lady Bracknell as a inversion of typical women roles)
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Cecily and reputation

  • Wilde emphasises the importance of reputation through implying that living up to your reputation is more important to characters in the play than actually being good.

"I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. that would be hypocricy"

  • This expresses dramatic irony as she is saying not to lead a double life but she is leading one through her diary
  • Furthermore it could be suggested that she lives up to the dandified character as she is more aware than others similarly to Algernon, Wilde uses dandified characters to comment on society as they share his satirical views.
  • Cecily makes the idea of reputation complex here- the way she over complecates and creates confusion through this paradoxical statement shows the lack of connection between the reality of reputation in Victorian society due to their shallow attitude
  • Could use in other essays such as storytelling (focus moreso on the first part of the point), Cecily, how Wilde uses Dandified characters (unlikely), hippocrity, lies 
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  • The way characters communicate and the way tone and language differs from the underlying meaning 
  • This is seen through the fight between Gwendolen and Cecily which is restricted between Victorian customs of a tea party. Gwendolen passive aggressibly almost inults Cecily's reputation:
  • "Cake is rarely seen at the best houses nowadays"
  • Through this she is insisting that offering her cake isnt good for Cecily's reputation- she is further trying to emphasise her own respectable repitation through her knowledge of fashion
  • Wilde's restriction of their emotions (predominantly anger) emphasises the restricting nature of the importance of reputation and social image in Victorian society.
  • The restrictorin of Victorian womens lives-  women were inable to show emotion in fear of being diagnosed with hysteria, this is due to the strict expectations of women being images of purity and obedience, through this WIlde is picking up on the emotional restriction on women through this scene. He also presents the little control they had was through their reputation which is seen through Gwendolens obsessions with conforming to fashions.
  • Could use in essays about fashion, image, victorian shallowness, surfaces.
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