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The Importance Of Being Earnest And Modern Day London?

1650 words - 7 pages

The speed that we allow and enable our world to change and adapt is often a common topic among people. When I think back to my childhood it now seems so outdated and old fashioned, yet it was such a short time ago; showing me how fast were developing as people and as a planet. In the Victorian era, when The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde was written and set, they were just discovering cars for the rich, and railways were becoming a popular form of transport. Nowadays the development of technology has allowed man to walk on the moon and we are able to fly to the other side of the world in just a day. The contrast in these two statements is so vast; it is difficult to see how a person from either era could survive without really struggling, if their roles were reversed. While I’m not sure about Cecily and Gwendolen, I am certain that Jack and Algernon could survive and prosper in a modern day city like London.

Gwendolen represents the typical Victorian woman, always striving for the ideals, attending lectures and is constantly looking for ways to improve herself. I think that whilst Gwendolen appears to the reader as independent and intellectual, she is also particularly naïve and pretentious. This naivety is shown as she becomes fixated with the name Earnest; the name being partly why she falls in love with Jack, believing he is in fact someone he is not. She claims that the name Earnest “inspires absolute confidence”, resulting in her becoming obsessed with finding a husband who goes by that name even stating that any other name would simply not do and that she pities “any woman who is married to a man called John” (15), solely because that is his name. This ignorance would simply not be found nowadays, as people would ridicule such a clouded judgement. The obsessing over the name Earnest also highlights the importance of class in the Victorian era. Earnest represents the preoccupation of the middle and upper classes over virtue and honour. This is probably an attitude she learnt from her mother, Lady Bracknell. While she is similarly strong minded and has the same authoritative tone to her voice when stating she is “never wrong”, she’s also more self-conscious and clever in the way she does everything, going for a calculated effect as opposed to making a mere passing comment. I think that while Gwendolen does show some strong personality traits and she is very clever, her ignorance and foolishness wouldn’t enable her to survive in such a fast-paced time as now. Her desire to marry someone named Ernest demonstrates that her romantic dreams hinge upon titles, not character. Being born in to a wealthy family can only get you so far and while Gwendolen was very in to fashion, the idea of her having to get a job in order to survive and look after herself is almost laughable.

Cecily appears in the book as a sweet, unspoiled girl, who Algernon refers to as a “pink rose”. While Gwendolen is a product of high society London, Cecily...

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