Monday, September 30, 2019

A Woman Of No Importance Essay

‘A Woman of No Importance’ was written in 1892 by Oscar Wilde. In the play Wilde shows the hypocrisy that permeated through the 19th century and he expresses his views on a parochial society. The exposition of the play is pivotal in Wilde’s craft as he establishes characters and lays the foundations of the play. The play shows how 19th century, upper-class societies functioned. With hindsight, we can reflect upon Wilde’s use of suggestion as he radically expresses his views on the society in which he lived in. Wilde successfully introduces the characters within the exposition and the subtext allows the reader to gain a deeper understanding of the true nature of all the characters. Wilde immediately introduces us t the character of Lady Caroline, a woman who has been married four times herself, a trait that would be highly disapproved of in the 19th century. Her opinions seem to echo what many women of her status may have thought about the goings on in a 19th century society. She is persistent in patronising Miss Worsley and takes amusement in insulting her about her American heritage. ‘I am not sure Miss Worsley, that foreigners like you should cultivate likes or dislikes’. This statement shows that Lady Caroline places herself above Miss Worsley in society, although she is a Lady, and Hester has no title. Lady Caroline clearly thinks that everything she says is correct, as in conversation with Lord Kevil she comments that she is ‘usually right’, even though she refers to Lord Kelvil as Kettle, and she has to be corrected by her passive husband, Sir John. ‘You believe good of everyone Jane. It is a great fault’, although this is a virtue, Lady Caroline is clearly a pessimist, and her statement is a paradox. The statement shows that Lady Caroline has warped morals and is greatly unaware of her own nature. Through Wilde’s presentation of Lady Caroline we are shown how we cannot believe the surface appearance of characters in the play, deepening our knowledge of a 19th century culture was truly like. Wilde reinforces the hypocrisy of Lady Caroline, creating the impression that her knowledge is purely based upon gossip. ‘It’s said, of course, that she ran away twice before she was married’. This is an aspect to Lady Caroline that is key in understanding her nature; her egotistical vanity creates a particularly bad impression of 19th century upper-classes, as her views almost mirror modern day celebrities. Wilde portrays Hester as a stark contrast to the malicious character of Lady Caroline; Hester has a nonchalant manner and speaks in long, meaningful dialect, whereas Lady Caroline’s dialect is shorter and far more aggressive. Through Hester we can see Wilde’s possible true intentions, as he is perhaps suggesting that an American society far exceeds the British way of life. ‘In America those are the people that we respect the most’, Hester says this to Lady Caroline when she is being informed that Lady Caroline is disdainful towards people that have to work for a living. Hester is clearly an independent woman, and like the Suffragette movement during the 19th century, she represents the ‘new woman’; she is very clear about what she wants and is able to make her own decisions. In the 19th century the Suffragettes battled for the rights for women to vote and were very forward in their thinking, much in the same way as Wilde and Orwell (1984). When Hester comments on her thoughts and feelings towards Gerald Arbuthnot many of the characters disapprove of her speech, as she is breaking the stereotypical expectations of a woman in the 19th century. ‘He has one of the most beautiful natures I have ever come across’. Although Hester is the most isolated and vulnerable, due to her being from America, the audience seem to her like her the most out of all the characters, as she appears to be the most honest and likeable, she also has a witty sense of humour.

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