The Importance of Being Earnest

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The Importance Of Being Earnest
“Women’s roles are often tokenistic in dramatic comedy” To what extent do you believe this to be the case in relation to the play you have been studying?

In dramatic comedy it can often be said that women’s roles are ‘tokenistic’ which essentially means: that women are there to serve a little more than the minimum, or may not serve much of a purpose at all, they may also follow social stereotypes during the era of this literary piece. In this essay I will be assessing this statement and come to a final decision by looking at both sides of the argument and looking for secondary sources/opinions to prove some points that will be made. I believe that women are not tokenistic in terms of comedy in The Importance of being earnest because they do serve a purpose and add to the humour but on the other hand they may only do the very minimum within the story line and many of the female characters follow social stereotypes strongly. Wilde often uses characters within his plays and pieces as an opportunity to discuss or highlight certain contemporary issues, and may sometimes mock them through satire and farce. An example of this is the character of Gwendolen who is used to create humour; Oscar does this by presenting her as an inversion of the traditional female during the era Importance of Being Earnest was written. In the third act Gwendolen Says “But we will not be the first to speak” and then instantly contradicts her statement and addresses Algernon straight away after saying so, this would be found rather humorous by contemporary audiences because women were traditionally meant to be quiet and should ‘speak when spoken to’ Gwendolen recognises this, but yet she does speak first, and this is a break of a social stereotype. This is an example of a women’s role within The Importance of Being Earnest as un-tokenistic because she serves a purpose in creating humour, and also the language used in that line suggests that she is leading...
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