SUBJECT AREA Arts entertainment
CREATED ON 9th December 2017

Exploring Male and Female Expectations at Oscar Wilde's Play Essay

The main subject of this drama is love and union and Wilde investigates the male and female role expectations, beliefs and ideals of both national relationships of the top class British society in the late 1890's. The societal norms of the Victorian age had strict rules for its behaviors of men and women. For ladies, who were legally their husband's property until 1884, high criteria were anticipated. They had been to run a respectable family, delegate servants, be very, compassionate, ladylike and virtuous. Girls of the upper classes were taught in needlework, French, drawing, painting and social skills. There were no women's colleges until the 1870's and women's education wasn't wildly accepted until into the 20th century. The Victorian husband was expected to have gone to college and to become successful in business or politics. He had been an exemplary role model for others and for society in general. From the late 1890's women's roles were changing. In fact, Oscar Wilde was editor of Women's World, a magazine that encouraged the "new girl", who was educated, involved in women's issues and supportive of her husband's livelihood. The asceticism movement provided another role for the Victorian male, that of those dandy; a prosperity man who lived a hedonistic way of life and was generally unmarried, pursuing no useful endeavours. In Wilde's drama, all of these personas are represented. Wilde primarily uses the feminine conversations to provide the viewers a picture of how girls view their marriage relationships and their views about the ideal husband. In the opening act, Lady Basildon and Mrs. Marchmont's conversation illustrates the upper class female societal position. Lady Basildon states that "she knows why she goes everywhere".

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