The social/economic upper-class in England in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray are depicted through the characters’ lifestyles, wealth, and behaviors. Woolf, Austen, and Wilde give insightful portrayals of the characters by emphasizing their social roles in the England society. Their portrayals of the characters suggest that they are critical of the upper-class’ factitious lifestyles.
Members of England’s social/economic upper-class in Woolf’s, Austen’s, and Wilde’s literary works are distinguished by their lifestyles. In Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, the upper-class appear to have a simple and comfortable life. One of Woolf’s focuses of the upper-class’ lifestyle is Clarissa Dalloway. Clarissa’s lifestyle consists of planning and hosting social events for the members of the upper-class. When Woolf says, “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. For Lucy had her work cut out for her” (Woolf 3), he notes that it is not often that the upper-class women carry out their own duties. The women are also perceived as lazy because they do not have to work for a living. The upper-class women spend much of their leisure time shopping, maintaining their social role by attending social gatherings, and indulging in their desires. They seem to live a lavish lifestyle because “they lived with everything they wanted” (Woolf 111), whether it was “breakfast in bed” (Woolf 111), or having servants to do their work for them.
Austen’s Sense and Sensibility provides detailed perceptions of the upper-class lifestyles. Similar to Woolf’s descriptions in Mrs. Dalloway, the aspects of the upper-class in Austen’s novel imply that they live a relaxed lifestyle. The upper-class women do not have a profession, and they spend most of their time entertaining guests. When Austen states that “the man and one of the maids were sent off immediately into Devonshire” (Austen 21), she indicates that the Dashwood’s servants perform all of their household duties. The upper-class women spend their leisure time attending private balls and parties hosted by the elite, whom they also mingle and journey with. When Austen says that Lady Middleton “had the advantage of being able to spoil her children all the year round” (Austen 25), she suggests that the upper-class live a luxurious lifestyle because they are able to indulge in whatever their heart desires.
In Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, he describes the lives of the upper-class by detailing their pleasurable lifestyle. Much like the upper-class’ lifestyle in Mrs. Dalloway and Sense and Sensibility, their lifestyle include attending social gatherings and upholding their outer appearances in high esteem. Wilde notes that the upper-class like to associate themselves with people of the same social importance. Lord Henry’s statement that “there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked...