The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Victorian wider reading, English literature AS

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Women and gender: The Importance of Being Earnest

Jack: ‘I have come up to town to expressly propose to her’…Algernon: ‘I thought you had come up for pleasure?...I call that business’

 Algernon: ‘the amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous’

Lady Bracknell: ‘I hadn’t been there since her poor husband’s death. I never saw a woman so altered; she looks quite twenty years younger’ Ironic, the death of Lady Harbury’s husband has revitalised her. This suggests that marriage was conducted out of necessity rather than love, the strain of a marriage with no love aged Victorian women.

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Women and gender: The Importance of Being Earnest

Lady Bracknell: (pencil and note-book in hand) I feel bound to tell you that you are not on my list of eligible young men’ Lady Bracknell: ‘what is your income?’ Jack: ‘Between seven and eight thousand a year’ Lady Bracknell: ‘This is satisfactory’

Algernon: ‘the only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty and to someone else, if she is plain’

Gwendolen: ‘Whatever influence I had over mother, I lost at the age of three’

Mrs Prism: ‘Young women are green’ Suggesting young women are ripe for marriage.

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Social problems, poverty and the class divide: The

Algernon: ‘If the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility’

Algernon: ‘Nothing annoys peoples so much as not receiving invitations’ Wilde satirising Victorian Society suggesting that all the upper classes care about is socialising and being formally entertained. Their worries are petty.

Algernon: ‘I hate people who aren’t serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.’ Again Wilde is poking fun at the upper classes, Algernon is making a mountain out of a mole hill. Wilde suggests the worries of the upper classes are haughty and minor.

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Social problems, poverty and the class divide: The

Lady Bracknell: ‘What number in Belgrave Square?’ Jack: ‘149’ Lady Bracknell: ‘The unfashionable side.’ 

Algernon: ‘My duty as a gentleman has never interfered with my pleasures in the smallest degree.’

Algernon: ‘If I am occasionally a little over-dressed, I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated’

Gwendolen: ‘Sugar is not fashionable anymore…Bread and butter, please. Cake is rarely seen at the best houses nowadays’

Lady Bracknell: ‘Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can’t get into it do that’

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New attitudes to Science, Culture & Religion: The

Algernon: ‘More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read’

Lady Bracknell: ‘the whole theory of modern education is radically unsound’

Algernon: ‘Everybody is clever nowadays. You can’t go anywhere without meeting clever people’

Lady Bracknell; ‘At their age? The idea is grotesque and irreligious! Algernon I forbid you to be baptised.’

Cecily: ‘Oh Uncle Jack, do be nice. There is some good in everybody.’ 

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