“Much of the comedy arises from the fact that Wiled creates female characters who refuse to conform to stereotypes” to what extent do you agree with this statement on “The Importance of being Earnest”? The stereotypical view of the woman in late Victorian London was that they were to be married to who their parents decided they’d be married to, and not have an opinion on the matter that differed from their parent’s.
This expected behavior was not what was displayed by such female characters in Oscar Wild’s, “The Importance of being Earnest”. A stock character in the play is Leghorn’s snobbish, domineering aunt, Lady Breakneck. From her first entrance in the play when she tells Algerian “l hope you’re behaving very well” we, as an audience, are aware that she will be a Strong headed character, who will not conform to the dominant ideology of the time that women should be polite, innocent and not speak their opinions of they are not in the norm.
Unlike this view of what a woman should be like, Lady Breakneck is straight to the point, for example when speaking of a dear friend whose husband has just passed away, she says that she has “never saw a woman so altered; she looks quite twenty years younger. ” This is a rather Lugar thing for a woman to say, which reinforces to the audience that she is a stock character. Another reason that Lady Breakneck could be seen as a stock character is because she suppresses the desires of her daughter, Condoled.
Northrop Frye said that the older generation suppress the desires of the younger generation by not allowing them to marry the people that they love because they believed that marriage had to be all about money and social status. This is a prominent theme in “The Importance of being Earnest” as Condoled wants to marry, who she thinks is, Earnest, however Lady Breakneck does not see Jack as a fit match for her daughter Condoled because he does not know who his parents are therefore he can only have limited status in London, which was not suited to what Lady Breakneck was looking for in a man for Condoled.
This could make a comedic situation because Condoled is not the most subdued of characters and is not one to conform to what she is supposed to do, so there could be conflict or hassle between the two women. Condoled, although she is naive, eager and feminine on the outside, is a dominant and forthright character who is able to nominate what men do and say, and she is often in charge of a situation and gets out of it what she wants. Alga, kindly turn your back, I have something very particular to say to Mr.. Worthington. ” Here Condoled is able to control and manipulate to men at once to get what she wants, which would have been seen as quite humorous at the time because it was a barbaric idea that a woman could do that to a man, and would seem funny because it was so unheard of. She even manages to make Jack propose to her by telling her that “you don’t say it” when he is speaking of marriage but does not propose to her.
Again, this emphasizes the fact that this is a comedy because of the use of stock characters and how a woman at that time is able to manipulate somebody like Jack because of how in love with her he is and how she treats and speaks to him. In the second act of “The Importance of being Earnest” the audience are introduced to Cecil, who straight away strays from the typical female role of the time when she says “but don’t like German. Ifs not at all a becoming language. ” It soon becomes obvious that she is an intelligent girl, but a girl who likes what she likes and is not willing to do what she doesn’t thou trying to get out of it.
Oscar Wiled could be using this as a comedic device by making the audience look at her in a way that can be laughed at because she is so certain of herself and hat she wants despite her being “only just eighteen”. In conclusion, I do believe that Oscar Wiled created his rebellious female characters to crate humor within the play, and this is successful because there is much folly ad the audience are able to laugh at the characters because their behavior is so obscure for the time and not something that one came across often.