Introduction: we should treat all the trivial things of life seriously, and all the serious and studied things of life with sincere and studied triviality. My thesis is that Wilde ridicules and satirises marriage.
Triviality means: 1.Of little value or importance- marriage is seen as important in that society- Wilde’s direct idea of marriage is that it’s not important- this reflects in lady B’s questions-trivial questions for trivial things
Satire examples: incongruity parody reversal exaggeration
A01- Structure & form. The form is a comedy and drama. And the structure is interview. Do lady Bracknell’s actions/jacks show their views on marriage? Jack stands up “I prefer standing”-Exhibits his pre conception of his role within the marriage. Gwendolen “he tries to rise; she restrains him” example of satire reversal- she has upper hand of the proposal. Unusual for audience to see this.
Audience shown extreme forms of characters and behaviour which would ridicule with the intention of preventing us from ever thinking or feeling or acting in the same way.
Satire criticizes moral and social standards of the upper class making the comedy a high comedy drama.
A04: the understanding the significance and influence of the examples of comedy to show respectability and marriage.
A01 & A03:
Marriage was seen as an opportunity for social and financial advancement. Lady Bracknell wants her daughter Gwendolen and nephew Algernon to marry someone of ‘good family,’ with a respectable or even noble pedigree. She also wants them to be rich. This is shown by her keen interest, when she interrogates Jack as to Cecily’s suitability to marry Algernon, in Cecily’s social connections and the number of large houses her family owned. Lady Bracknell is appalled by the fact that Jack’s only known “origin” is not a noble family but “a Terminus” (as well as “origin” meaning a family line, there is a pun on its other meaning of the railway station from which a train starts its journey). It is especially repugnant to her that Jack was a foundling discovered in a handbag. This image conjures up connotations of illegitimacy, which carried a huge social stigma in Wilde’s time. Such babies were often delivered in secret and abandoned in a public place, which the baby Jack’s situation superficially resembled.
Gwendolen- “I am engaged to Mr Worthing, mamma. (They rise together).
Actions could show that marriage is something that is done in union. In contrast to when Jack prefers to stand with Lady B. He wants to show Lady B he will not let the dominance she has at home to expand to outside the home but with Gwendolen he rises with her. Support and respectability.
They speak and act in a stylized, unrealistic way, and they focus on style, rather than substance, as when, for instance, Gwendolen cares more about the name of her betrothed than the inner man (“my ideal has always been to love some one of the name of Ernest”).
Lady Bracknell shows the kind of ruthless ambition that was generally viewed as being the preserve of men when she says that she “had no fortune of any kind” when she married Lord Bracknell, “But I never dreamed for a moment of allowing that to stand in my way.” However, in a move typical of the Victorian hypocrisy that Wilde lampoons, she does not offer the same tolerance to the match between Algernon and Cecily: she only warms to Cecily and consents to the marriage when she knows that she has a fortune.
Marriage making it about working despite differences. Difference within generations
In Lady Bracknell’s remark that “a cloak-room at a railway station might serve to conceal a social indiscretion,” Wilde satirizes the prudery about sexual affairs, especially those that crossed class boundaries, exhibited by respectable Victorian society. That she attaches great importance to the superficial matter of Jack’s lack of pedigree but cares nothing about his character is Wilde’s