Susanna Huth Gender Roles In the Importance Of being Earnest

Topics: Gender, Victorian era, The Importance of Being Earnest Pages: 3 (772 words) Published: October 14, 2014
Susanna Huth
Gender Roles In The importance of Being Earnest

In The Importance of Being Earnest, the question of each gender’s role in society often centers on power. In the Victorian world men had greater influence than women. Men made the decisions for their families, while women worked around the house. Wilde raises interesting questions about gender roles in The Importance of Being Earnest, by putting women (like Lady Bracknell) in positions of power and by showing that men can be irresponsible and bad at Decision-making The traditional view of gender relations in the Victorian era was that men were active, manly, assertive and economically independent whilst women were assumed to be passive, pliant and dependent. I believe that Oscar Wilde does challenge these traditional roles deliberately to make humor out of these characteristics and to make fun of the conventional roles of society. The two main male characters, Jack and Algernon, cannot really be regarded as masculine, or at any rate both of them do not fit the criteria for what characteristics a stereotypical Victorian man would be they are both what people at that time would call ‘dandy’s’. Algy and jacks un gentlemanly behavior and trivial pursuits can be seen as comic and deliberate in making men seem less powerful and serious. Algy is also a little too concerned with clothing to come across as masculine. This can be seen when he criticizes Jack by saying that he had ‘never known anyone to put so much effort into dressing and to produce so little effect’. Algernon also says in Act two when talking to Cecily that he wouldn't trust Jack to buy his outfits as he has '"no taste in neckties". Algy is dandy, making him unmasculine and a bit of a joke in the eyes of the Victorian audience. 

 A time in the play when we see women as having more power then men is in the character lady Bracknel, she is strong and blunt even coming across as a bit intimidating we get the feel that even Algy is afraid of...
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