Provide a feminist reading of the play "The Importance of Being Earnest"" by Oscar Wilde:
• How is the relationship between men and women portrayed?
• What are the power relationships between men and women (or characters assuming male/female roles)?
• How are male and female roles defined?
• What constitutes masculinity and femininity?
• How do characters embody these traits?
• Do characters take on traits from opposite genders? How so? How does this change others' reactions to them?
• What does the work reveal about the operations (economically, politically, socially, or psychologically) of patriarchy?
• What does the work imply about the possibilities of sisterhood as a mode of resisting patriarchy?
• What does the work say about women's creativity?
• What does the history of the work's reception by the public and by the critics tell us about the operation of patriarchy?
• What role the work play in terms of women's literary history and literary tradition?
Welcome! Please rate 5/5 for my notes and references. I appreciate your business and am honored to assist you!
First of all, feminist theory is certainly applicable in this play since the institution of marriage is heavily trivialized and satirized overall within this text's prominent themes. In Wilde's satire of English aristocracy, for example, I feel like he is using this play to ironically show the unjust subjugation of women in marriage, as it's more of a business deal, than a union of true love, passion, trust, and mutual respect. Thus, he strongly evokes feminist implications as he demonstrates that marriage is more about achieving and maintaining a certain social status or façade of one in Victorian England.
In addition, Gwendolen's assessment of her father's status within his family also seems to contrast with conventional Victorian notions of gender. Although Gwendolen appears to be a typical Victorian lady on the surface, she refutes typical Victorian standards and requirements for being a lady through this commentary, as well as her actions and other comments during the play's duration.
Gender dynamics are also revealed when Jack learns the truth of his birth, as he comments on the double standards between men and women. In turn, Wilde seems to be criticizing gender inequalities in London, even through this character.
Miss Prism's character, too, is such a concrete example of Victorian morality, hypocrisy, and women's inferior status to men, a possible vehicle for feminist implications, too, showing her shrewd absurdity, she staunchly advocates women's submissiveness and silence to men's dominance.
The Importance of Being Earnest also seems to question gender role in society. Power seems to be shown as highly unbalanced as men have ...
Notes and references are briefly given to discuss various feminist implications in "The Importance of Being Earnest"" by Oscar Wilde.