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City Vs. Country

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Brooke Pritchard

on 27 April 2015

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Transcript of City Vs. Country

City Vs. Country
The Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde:

City Vs. Country: Wilde's Illustration of Victorian Society
Historical Context
Trivial Nature of High Society
Social Conventions and Bunburying
City Vs. Country Symbolized by
Cecily and Gwendolen
Ernest Vs. Earnest
An Escape from Social Convention
Gwendolen Fairfax
"City Girl"
A girl with a simple, unspoiled nature
Member of high society
Exhibits fashions and knowledge of the latest trends
"My ideal has always been to love someone of the name Ernest.
There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence
." (Wilde 1.332-334).
"The only really safe name is Ernest" (Wilde 1.360).
Cecily Cardew
"Country Girl"
A sweet, simple, innocent girl
Likes nature and trying to bring people together
"..it had always been a girlish dream of mine to love someone whose name was Ernest.
There is something in that name that seems to inspire absolute confidence
" (Wilde 2.452-455).
The Importance of Being Earnest
By: Christina Beard, Adam Bustamante, and Brooke Pritchard
Lady Bracknell:

A Symbol of Victorian High Society
Trivial matters taken seriously
Serious matters taken lightly

Husbands/Wives in the Victorian Era
Gone all day
Wives knew little to nothing
Stayed home
Responsible for their kids education
Husbands knew where their wives were and what they did
"Ernest will himself be earnest only when he isn't, just as he will not be earnest only when he is" (Fineman 81).
Earnest- serious and sincere

(Melbourne High School, English Faculty)
: someone who escaped the hypocrisy and dishonesty of high society by claiming a false identity in a new place.
Wilde's use of bunburying was successful due to the existence of opposing environments.
Bunburyism was also dishonest and hypocritical.
Otto Reinert suggests "the movement from town to country...has symbolic relevance as a return to 'naturalness' - to regain their balance and become earnest..." (p.18)
A few rules for social etiquette:
"A lady never, ever smokes."
"A gentleman will always tip his hat to greet a lady."
"A gentleman should never place his arm on the back of a chair occupied by a lady."
"Soups should be sipped from the side of the spoon."
"If a young woman and man are engaged, they should not be left alone together."

Everything had its place
Lower class tried to act like higher class
Social standings were checked before engagement
One should have high aspriations for marriage
Historical Context: Victorian Period
Oscar Wilde utilized the contrast between the city and the country to achieve his social commentary regarding the superficial nature of the Victorian upper class. He used symbols like Lady Bracknell, Jack and Algernon, Gwendoyn and Cecily, and terms like Bunbury and Earnest to convey this message. In many instances, characters from the city and country had conflicts in their point of views, but yet they shared the same interests and goals in the end.
Algernon and Jack
Different but alike in some ways
Algernon is a dandy who loves to enjoy himself.
Algernon was born into greatness.
"He has nothing but looks everything. What more can one desire? (Act 3, verse 188-189)
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