A Woman of No Importance, Final Act.

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Topics: Marriage, Drama
A Woman of No Importance – Pre 1945 Drama
“Rachel, Gerald knows everything about you and me now, so some arrangement must be come to that will suit us all three. I assure you, he will find in me the most charming and generous of fathers.”
This extract is about Lord Illingworth attempting to make Gerald his heir and offering to marry Mrs Arbuthnot. Lord Illingworth is at a disadvantage from the beginning, he has had to sneak past the maid, only to be spotted in the mirror. Mrs Arbuthnot even speaks with her back to him, a significant violation of etiquette and this shows her power over the situation. Wilde uses many dramatic effects throughout the play to shock and amuse the audience and many of them can be seen in this final scene. The fact that this conversation between Mrs Arbuthnot and Lord Illingworth takes place in Mrs Arbuthnot’s house, her personal space and territory puts her at an advantage and it shows that Lord Illingworth is surrendering his usual control over his situations By Lord Illingworth referring to Mrs Arbuthnot as ‘Rachel’ we are again made aware that we are listening to two people who have a strong past relationship. She calls him ‘George Harford’ while he uses her name far less often that in the persuasive Act 2. During this scene, Lord Illingworth speaks with awareness of the legal situation, he knows he can never make Gerald legitimate but he is willing to leave him property “What more can a gentleman desire in this world?” and Mrs Arbuthnot’s response of “Nothing more, I am quite sure” turns this in to a class confrontation. When Mrs Arbuthnot says “I told you I was not interested, and I beg you to go.” this is a threat to conventional society and the audience would have been shocked by this. She treats Lord Illingworth as he once treated her, in purely financial terms and she tells him that Gerald no longer needs his money, “You come too late. My son has no need of you. You are not necessary.” She then goes on to explain to him that

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