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The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

by Oscar Wilde

Gender Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

Lady Bracknell: Pardon me, you are not engaged to any one. When you do become engaged to some one, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself . . . And now I have a few questions to put to you, Mr. Worthing. (I.172)

Lady Bracknell’s comments suggest that girls are not capable or experienced enough to prudently choose husbands.

Quote #2

Gwendolen: What wonderfully blue eyes you have, Ernest! They are quite, quite, blue. I hope you will always look at me just like that, especially when there are other people present. (I.167)

That Gwendolen desires Ernest to "look at [her] just like that, especially when there are other people present" reveals her as a vain woman concerned about her appearance in the eyes of others. It is also telling that Gwendolen wants men to look at her in a desirous way, as if she specifically needs the male sex to validate her.

Quote #3

Jack: [In a very patronising manner] My dear fellow, the truth isn't quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice, sweet, refined girl. What extraordinary ideas you have about the way to behave to a woman! (I.236)

The implication here is that women are too pampered, idealistic, and fragile to have "the truth." This explains why Jack and Algernon don’t lose sleep over their lies to their beloveds. They truly believe they are protecting their women from a harsh society.

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