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September 11, 2005

Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

Well I thought that “the Importance of Being Earnest” was the best play we have read so far. I really enjoyed the conversation and frequent puns between Algernon and Jack “Earnest”. However, I really disliked the women in the play, especially Cecily and Gwendolen. Their personalities were similar to that of Nora in “A Doll’s House” because they played the pathetic role of helpless women.

Gwendolen: How absurd to talk of the equality of the sexes! Where questions of self-sacrifice are concerned, men are infinitely beyond us.
Jack: We are. [Clasps hand with Algernon]
Cecily: They have moments of physical courage of which we women know absolutely nothing,

I think the above conversation is absolutely pitiable. Granted I may be three tenths of a feminist, but their roles of male-dependent women are almost sickening.
In addition, I really liked Kayla’s comment agreeing with one of mine that was written a few days earlier.

"‘ALGERNON. My dear boy, I love hearing my relations abused. It is the only thing that makes me put up with them at all. Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven't got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die.’
Like, Amanda Nichols, I too can relate to Algernon’s harsh observations about family members. Spending time with my cousins, in particular, is rather like repeatedly slamming your fingers in a car door: you should've learned better the first time, because it only gets more painful after that.
Algernon makes so many wise and clever statements (but of coarse, "everybody is clever now-a-days," as Jack says). He seems to have an opinion on every thing, and never holds back.
I don't see the appeal in cucumber sandwiches, however.”

Algernon really is this cocky, know-it-all and although my family can be irritating from time to time, I certainly wouldn’t find pleasure in hearing about them being abused. Does Algernon have some grudge against his relatives? Have they done something so terrible to him in the past that we do not know about?

Posted by AmandaNichols at September 11, 2005 03:04 PM


C'mon now, Nora wasn't that helpless. But your right, there does seem to be a common trend of gender inequality (wasn't that just how it was in their time though?). But then again, we've only read five plays.

I'm having a difficult time analyzing this play. I keep getting caught up in the funny lines.

Best quote ever:
"ALGERNON. Well, I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."

Posted by: Kayla Sawyer at September 11, 2005 05:00 PM

While Cecily and Gwendolyn were under the power of their elders, don't forget Lady Bracknell. As a society matron, she claims she can change both which side of a street is fashionalbe, and the side of the street that a house is on. (Of course, Wilde isn't reaching for realism, but Lady Bracknell *is* meant to be a real threat to the happiness of the younger characters.)

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at September 11, 2005 11:08 PM

Well, I agree with you hating the women because of the dependency on the male charcters in the play, but I disliked the men also. I think that it was based on a bunch of charcters who were all manipulative and decieving and only looking out for themselves. Which is why I don't know why you have so much hatred for the women and not the men also. I didn't enjoy any conversation between any of the characters because they were all talking in riddles.

Posted by: Gina at September 15, 2005 01:27 AM

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