Throughout act 1, Wilde tells the audience of his intentions by subtly dropping hints at his views on both his past and Victorian society. Wilde’s social background indicates many thing concerning his social beliefs and values. These values and attitude to society can be found throughout the play.
One of the first things Wilde makes clear is his distaste for the views the upper classes hold on education. Lady Bracknell states when discussing education for the lower classes, “It would prove a serious danger to the upper classes.” Through Lady Bracknell, who we view as a harsh, selfish and obnoxious individual, Wilde shows us of his views on the matter. Since we disagree with her opinions, it becomes apparent that her view on the lower classes receiving education (in that they shouldn’t) is the exact opposite to that of Wilde. In doing so Wilde tries to convince the audience that Lady Bracknell’s views are wrong and it becomes clear to the audience that this is his aim.
Wilde also informs the audience of how he considers marriage a declaration of love and romance in contrast to the upper class view that it is a bond to bring financial and status gain. Once more Wilde attempts to show the reader that the upper class view is immoral and through the revulsion we have grown towards the upper class characters in the book (intentionally achieved by Wilde) he is able to do this. Lady Bracknell declares, “To marry in to a cloakroom, and form an alliance with a parcel.” As the quote is viewed as morally wrong, Wilde convinces the audience to disagree with it and consequently with the views on marriage they hold.
In act 1, we also learn of the gulf between the upper echelons and lower echelons of society. Not only do we gain an idea of the difference but we learn of Wilde’s negative views on the matter. The audience get a sense of Wilde’s socialist views from the act as we notice that he believes everybody; despite their status and wealth, deserves an equal chance...
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