Brahm Stoker And Oscar Wilde: Sexual And Social Identity In "Dracula" And "The Importance Of Being Earnest"

1990 words - 8 pages

Gender and identity were two of the main issues criticized by some of the most popular writers of the Victorian time period, but none of the authors were as straightforward as Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker. Oscar Wilde focused mainly on the dual-identity that existed in Victorian society, not only in the social aspect applied to the way every-day Victorian men and women were expected to act, but also when it came to sexual identity, and suppressing true sexual identity to conform to Victorian societal standards. Stoker's views on social identity were similar to Wilde's, but placed more emphasis on sexual identity and gender roles. Stoker was more concerned with the fear Victorian society had of sexual expression of females, and the expression of desire that males would have towards female sexual expression. Though their ideologies on gender and identity roles weren't identical, both Stoker and Wilde conveyed one main shared view through "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "Dracula": that Victorian society feared the expression of true sexual and social identity.Oscar Wilde was a homosexual author during the Victorian time period that used his characters as tools to show how society suppressed sexual and social identities. In "The Importance of Being Earnest", Wilde makes evident through characters such as Jack and Gwendolyn the hypocrisy in society, giving them an "earnest" and morally upright ideology in their every day lives, but writing them completely opposite in their true form of identity. Jack creates an alter ego named Earnest to keep his honorable image intact in Victorian society, when in fact creating Earnest was not at all an honorable act. Gwendolyn, whose image consciousness is blurred by the ideals instilled in her by society, can obsess on nothing but marrying a man named Earnest because the name "inspires absolute confidence", but doesn't even notice that the man she is obsessed over for being "Earnest" isn't earnest at all. Both of these characters are reflections of Wilde's view of they hypocrisy of aristocratic society. Algernon, who is a character that seems to represent Wilde himself, is a reflection of Wilde's thoughts on the suppression of sexual identity, where he creates an alter-ego named Bunbury in order to act out indulgences outside of his normal life (which is an allusion to the way Wilde had separate his private and public self, and hide his true sexual identity). Though both sexual and social identity are closely intertwined, it is evident that through 'The Importance of Being Earnest' Wilde makes two distinct connections: that the aristocratic society had fixed views and roles for both men and women when it came to jobs, education, and social interaction, and that sexual identity and desires were to be suppressed because their effects on society did not fit Victorian standards.Bram Stoker differs slightly from Wilde in the sense that he focuses more on the fear of sexual expression in Victorian society, and the...

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