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The Importance of Being Earnest- Oscar Wilde


Discuss how the characters Gwendolyn and Cecily break gender roles

“The Importance of Being Earnest”, written by Oscar Wilde (1854- 1901), is a play that shows us, in a satirical humor, many interesting aspects of Victorian Age. In this play, Wilde criticizes the triviality of the Upper middle class of that time, the false morals of the 19th Century, the hypocrisy of such society and its contradictions.
The Victorian Era is characterized as “a long period of peace, known as the Pax Britannica, and economic, colonial, and industrial consolidation”, and it is also known as a time of “strict set of moral standards, which are often applied hypocritically”. Women were supposed to be pure and clean and have an immaculate reputation. They must be a respectable household. Thus, “the role of women was to have children and tend to the house”, and take care of their husbands, as we can see in Lady Bracknell’s speech, the character who mainly embodies the Upper middle class in the play:

Lady Bracknell to Algernon, talking about Lady Harbury: “She is such a nice woman, and so attentive to her husband. It’s delightful to watch them.”(Act 1, page 70)

However, despite of the strict rules and roles destined to women at that era, Gwendolen and Cecily are two characters who break some gender roles. They are strong women, have their own opinion and make things by their way.
The first time when Gwendolen is mentioned is when her cousin, Algernon, by talking to Jack, informs that she and her mother are coming for a visit. Algernon says that perhaps her mother, Lady Bracknell, would not like to see Jack there, once he and Gwendolen flirt “disgracefully”.

Algernon to Jack: “My dear fellow, the way you flirt with Gwendolen is perfectly disgraceful. It is almost as bad as the way Gwendolen flirts with you” (Act 1, page 67)

Further :

Algernon to Jack: “Well, in the first place girls never marry the men they flirt with. Girls don’t think it right”. (Act 1, page 68)

By this couple of excerpts, we can notice that Gwendolen had been breaking a rule. She flirted with Jack, and women were not allowed to do that, especially if they had the intention of marrying them. She did not care if flirting was something allowed or not. Gwendolen flirted with Jack and did not hide that.
Still concerned to Victorian Era, children were supposed to obey their parents unconditionally. Breaking this rule, Gwendolen does not accept her mother’s order to change her sit:

Lady Bracknell to Gwendolen: “Won’t you come and sit here, Gwendolen?”
Gwendolen to Lady Bracknell: “Thanks, mamma, I’m quite comfortable where I am”.

And once again, Gwendolen disobeys her mother’s order:

Lady Bracknell to Gwendolen: “Gwendolen, you will accompany me”
Gwendolen to her mother: “Certainly, mother”
[Lady Bracknell and Algernon go into the music-room, Gwendolen remains behind]

Gwendolen to Lady Bracknell: “Mamma! [He tries to rise; she restrains him]. I must beg you to retire. This is no place for you. Besides, Mr Worthing has no quite finished yet” (Act 1, page 72)

Gwendolen is not innocent as it was supposed for woman to be. She was smart, and we can see that in her speech:
Gwendolen to Jack: “Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr Worthing. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else”. (Act 1, page 71)

As we can see, Gwendolen has already known what he meant by his mention to the weather.

Gwendolen and Cecily had no patience. They could not wait, as it was supposed to women at their time. Gwendolen, for instance, orientates Jack on the way he has to propose to her.
Gwendolen to Jack: “I adore you. But you haven’t proposed to me yet.” (Act 1, page 72)

She also shows that she is determined to accept him, despites of her parents’ acceptance.

“And to spare you any possible disappointment, Mr Worthing, I think it only fair to tell you quite frankly beforehand that I am fully determined to accept you”. (Act I, page 72)

“I am engaged to Mr Worthing, mamma” (Act 1, page 72)

Cecily, as Gwendolen, orientates Algernon about what he should talk to her:

“I don’t think that you should tell me that you loved me wildly, passionately, devotedly, hopelessly. Hopelessly doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it?” (Act 2, page 81)

Cecily also breaks gender roles. In Jack’s description of Cecily, he states:

“Cecily is not a silly romantic girl, I am glad to say. She has got a capital appetite, goes on long walks, and pays no attention at all to her lessons”. (Act 1, page 74)

It also means that she is not interested in subjects that society imposed to women at that age. She has different and strong opinions.

Cecily to Miss Prism: “But I don’t like Germman” (Act 2, page 76)

Cecily to Miss Prism: “I don’t like novels that end happily. They depress me so much” (Act 2, page 76)

And also:

Cecily: “Horrid Political Economy! Horrid Geography! Horrid, horrid German!” (Act 2, Page 77)

“I don’t quite like women who are interested in philanthropic work. I think it is so forward of them” (Act 2, page 82)

As we can notice, Gwendolen and Cecily are strong women, and their behavior show that they are not so pure, innocent and submissive as women were supposed to be in Victorian Age. They had their own ideals, their own way of thinking and behaving, and did not embody the hypocrytical attitudes of that period as Lady Bracknell’s did.

The Glass Menagerie


Discuss the symbol “blue roses” used by Jim as a nickname for Laura. How does it show some of her specific characteristics?

blue-roses-august-copy-2-000
In scene 1, when the narrator and character of the play Tom Wingfield introduces himself, he says that he has a poet’s weakness for symbols (scene1, p 478). This speech shows us that he will make use of symbols during the play, and that we are supposed to be attentive to that.
One of the many symbols that will appear in the play is the nickname ‘Blue Roses’ given to Laura, Tom’s sister, by a kind of hero in high school, called Jim.
Jim first appears in the play when Amanda, Laura and Tom’s mother, asks her if she had already liked a boy. Laura answers she had:

“When I had that attack of pleurosis – he asked me what was the matter when I came back. I said pleurosis – he thought that i said Blue Roses! So that’s what he always called me after that. Whenever he saw me, he’d holler, ‘Hello, Blue Roses!’”. (scene 2, p.483).

So, what it seems to be a misunderstanding due to the similarity of the sounds ‘pleurosis’ and ‘blue roses’, we will notice along the play that it has an important role in the building of Laura’s character.
Laura is first described by the typing instructor as a “terribly shy little girl”, and a person who can not stand pressure. She dropped out of school and pretended that she was going to business college, but she had been visiting all sort of places.

“Lately, I’ve been spending most of my afternoons in the Jewel Box, that big glass house where they raise the tropical flowers.”(scene 2, p.482)

Here we can see the mention to the big glass house, that suggests her collection of glass animals, which are very symbolic in the play, and the mention to the “tropical flowers”, which allows us to make a link with ‘Blue Roses’.
According to some sites about meaning of colors, I found that blue is a color “of inspiration, sincerity and spirituality. Blue is often the chosen color by conservative people. Blue is the calming color”. We also have that blue “can be strong and steadfast or light and friendly.” And more, “Just as ‘seeing red’ alludes to the strong emotions invoked by the color red,’ feeling blue’ or ‘getting the blues’ represents the extremes of the calm feelings associated with blue, i.e. sadness or depression, lack of strong (violent) emotion.”
This color then comes to shows us how Laura fits in with such characteristics written above. Laura is a calm person, friendly, but also a sad person. She has a great complex because of her crippled leg, and, like Jim points out, she does not believe in herself; her problem is about self-esteem.
Considering the roses, we can take into account that blue roses are not natural, they are raised artificially, but have an uncommon beauty. Thus, ‘Blue Roses’ are delicate and lovely, rare, different and beautiful, as Laura is so. The moniker ‘Blue Roses’ describes very well Laura’s personality and shows us how she is rare and delicate like a blue rose, which has to be carefully raised.

Macbeth- Shakespeare


Macbeth- William Shakespeare

Is Lady Macbeth as guilty as Macbeth in the murder of the King? Comment and explain your answer.

“Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this tittle hand. Oh, oh, oh!”

_______________________________________________________________________

Lady Macbeth first appears reading a letter sent by her husband, Macbeth. By knowing that they would receive the king’s visit, she starts to build her plans for killing him. Lady Macbeth asserts that her husband and she had been waited for an opportunity to do that deed for a long time, and now everything was finally contributing.

Lady Macbeth is not totally aware of the effects of her acts. She stimulates Macbeth to commit the crime, provoking him, even calling into question his masculinity: “ Are you a man?” Lady Macbeth chooses not to think about future; her ambition, wich some people name as naivety, avoids her to look at the consequences. She invokes the spirits of evil, and asks them to unsex her, and fulfill her of “direst cruelty”. And such thing does not seem to be an act of a naive person. She asks her husband to “put this night’s great business into her dispatch” and states that if Duncan was not so seemed to her father, she herself would commit the crime.

MacBeth, in his turn, is totally conscious about the consequences of crimes and worries about that: “We still have judgement here”. He is afraid about future. Lady MacBeth states that he has ambition, however he has not that illness that leads to evil.

Macbeth thinks about giving up of this “project”, but Lady Macbeth does not allow him. She blackmails and provokes him. Finally, he is convinced. MacBeth kills the king. However, the other murders he commits are not influenced by his wife. He becomes own of his acts. From now on, he is alone guilty for his crimes.

Lady Macbeth starts to have allucinations during the night. She can not rest anymore and washes constantly her hands as a manner of cleaning herself of her guilty. Maybe Lady Macbeth had been a naive woman in the sense that she could never have imagined how deep would be the consequences of her acts. However, she made a choice, and his choice was: close her eyes to the consequences that certainly would come.

In my point of view, Lady Macbeth has more guilty than Macbeth. She had planned everything, and induced her husband to iniate in this life of crimes. And not for naivety, but for ambition. She is responsible for have made flourishing the seed of evil, instead of chopping it.