The Importance of Being Earnest

By Oscar Wilde

Love and Marriage

What attitudes toward marriage do Algernon and Lady Bracknell represent?


Algernon first represents love as unimportant, at first he is only interested in Cecily because of how she looks, which shows how unimportant love is in a marriage. Once Algernon really sees what Cecily is actually like he begins to love her.  Algernon first represents love in a marriage as unimportant, but then sees how it is important to actually be in love with the one you marry, once he actually falls in love with Cecily.

Lady Bracknell

Lady Bracknell's attitude toward love is that no one is capable of loving or marrying her Gwendolen.  She thinks that a person who doesn't have the right upbringing or someone who may not be in the same or higher social class as her, isn't good enough. Lady Bracknell isn't a true supporter of true love, but instead thinks she should be able to chose who Gwendolen falls in love with. Lady Bracknell even interviews "Earnest" (Jack), to see if he would be a worthy candidate for Gwendolen, but soon shoots him down learning about his lack of family and other social status issues.

In what ways are the play's values about love and marriage similar to or different from today's values?

The play shows marriage as a social status, rather than something two people do to show they're in love with each other. Showing that marriage was something that your parents would decide for you, it didn't matter if you loved or even knew the person you were marrying. Where, in today's world we value love and marriage, and have learned to accept the many different kinds of love. The plays views on love and marriage are completely different than how the modern population views love and marriage. Love is viewed as love in modern day, and you can't make someone love someone.

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