Throughout the play Oscar Wilde portrays the women as more intelligent than the men. Wilde shows this through the fact Cecily and Gwendolen both manage to get the men in their lives (Jack and Algernon) to be head over heels in love with them. Jack declares his love for Gwendolen “I have admired you more than any girl” which highlights that Gwendolen is the only girl he desires, throughout this conversation he appears nervous to be in the presence of Gwendolen as he stumbles on his words “….. I have ever met since… I met you” (pg 14). This shows a considerable contrast to Jack’s usual, refined nature. Algernon mirrors a similar situation with Cecily as he’s completely taken back by her and falls “hopelessly” in love with her; he states she is the “visible personification of absolute perfection” (pg46). As opposed to himself, having many imperfections. Lady Bracknell comments “he has nothing”. This shows he is incapable of supporting himself and this raises the question of whether he will be able to support a wife. These examples show how Gwendolen and Cecily have both managed to completely capture the hearts of the two main protagonists. Furthermore Cecily appears as quite a manipulative character and successfully schemes to get what she wants. Her manipulative nature is highlighted through the fact she’s able to get herself out of work by using the fact Miss Prism and Mr Chasuble have feelings for one another to her advantage. “I felt instinctively that you had a headache” (pg 32) she goes on to say she was thinking about Miss Prism’s headache and not about her “German lesson” (pg 32). This shows she had the agenda of getting herself out of working and Miss Prism’s situation provided the perfect way out. The fact she is successful in this shows she possesses intelligence.
Wilde continuously throughout the play implies Algernon and Jacks uncertainty about what they want in life. As they both create the double identities of “Ernest” and “Bunbury”. This always appears to backfire on them as it keeps Jack from finding out the actual truth of his identity. This actually outlines the stupidity of the men in the play as they put obstacles in the way which keep them from excelling. As opposed to Cecily and Gwendolen who know what they want “my ideal has always been to love someone of the name Ernest” (Gwendolen pg 15).Cecily admits it’s always been a “girlish dream” of hers to marry someone with the name Ernest (pg 50). Therefore all these examples prove and outline the intelligence of women in the play as they are able to stand up for themselves and use particular situations to their advantage in order to get what they want.
Wilde portrays the women in the play as having more dominance and authority. Throughout the play Lady Bracknell appears the most dominant and authoritative of all characters, her tone is always earnest; she’s arrogant and speaks imperatively in commands, judgments and pronouncements. “ I am going to send you down with Mary Farquhar” (pg12).This shows she’s forcefully demanding Algernon attends the dinner without acknowledging if he actually wants to go. Lady Bracknell also speaks her mind in an inappropriate manner “I think it’s high time Mr Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or die”(pg 13). This implies her insensitive and outspoken nature and also shows how she’s fearless and knows nobody will dare challenge her. Therefore this continues her forceful and outspoken nature throughout the entire play. She is the one who quizzes Jack over his eligibility in marrying Gwendolen “I have a few questions to put to Mr Worthing ….. That is satisfactory” (pg 19)