Victorian ideas of masculinity.
The concept of Victorian masculinity is a diverse one since it was influenced by numerous aspects and factors such as domesticity, economy, gender roles, imperialism, manners, religion and much more. Some of these aspects seem to be quite naturally related to one another, while others seem none-relational. For the males, this included a vast amount of pride in their work, protectiveness over their wives, and an aptitude for good social behaviour. The Victorians saw manliness as good, a form of control over maleness, which was brutish. Christianity contributed much to the Victorian concept of masculinity. The real Victorian man was to be spiritual and a faithful believer. The husband and father was considered to be the head of the household, but his duty was to rule. Victorian men were not only competing for respect within their own sex, but they needed to impress the women too. If they were not married, it depicted that they were not fully masculine because they did not have a family to support. Supporting a family was a sign of true success within the male sex. In the text so far Oscar Wilde shows Earnest/Jacks eagerness as a sign he could trying to assert his masculinity because that is what Victorian society is so judgemental. Prescribing the notion that women were born to dream of marriage, Cecily and Gwendolyn, from The Importance of Being Earnest, are caught up in the fantasies of the perfect marriage to the perfect earnest husband. Cecily and Gwendolyn are fixated on the name Earnest, almost as if it were an obsession; it is the ideal name for their future husbands. They are determined not to marry a man unless he is called Earnest because they believe a man with this name will automatically live up to the name’s expectations of being serious, honourable, and moral. In Wilde’s play, he comically satirizes the name “Earnest,” through the portrayal of two deceitful men whom the women fantasize as being ideal men worthy...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document