How Does Wilde Criticize Marriage

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In the The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde criticizes the Victorian ways. Instead of aiming to illustrates the daily lives of the people during that time period, Wilde uses characterization to criticize the superficiality of the their ways. Marriage is one of the apparent issues that Wilde criticizes in this play. He uses the characters of Jack/Ernest, Algernon, Gwendolen, Cecily, and Lady Bracknell to bring forth the superficiality of marriage typical in the Victorian elite. However, this paper will focus on how Wilde uses the character of Gwendolen - a smart, rebellious, determined, and sophisticated single woman - to criticize the depthless basis of marriage. This paper will argue that, in using the characterization of Gwendolen to ridicule the superficiality of marriage, Wilde demonstrates that Victorian…show more content…
He demonstrates it when Gwendolen started planning on giving her affection before she even met Jack/Ernest. Wilde illustrates this when Gwendolen told Jack that her “ideal has always been to love some one of the name Ernest...the name that inspires absolute confidence” (Wilde 9). Through this, Gwendolen shows her superficiality which shows how Wilde portrays single Victorian women - an individual who places high value on social status brought by inherited names. Gwendolen gave her shallow love based on shallow reason - the ideals of Ernest. Gwendolen believes that any man of that name is a man worth giving her affection without even considering the personality of the man behind that name, which shows her conditional so-called love. Portrayed as a smart woman, Wilde shows that Gwendolen’s actions was an action of a smart woman. This is what Wilde criticizes about Victorian marriage. That is, it is smart to marry for social status, but it is not smart to marry for love. Thus, Wilde shows that the basis of Victorian marriage is not love but social

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