A Woman of No Importance


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A darkly comedic Play in Four Acts (pub.1893)



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Wilde makes a strong case for women in this intriguing play, which tells the story of a man, a woman and the child they have outside of marriage. Lord Illingworth is a thoughtful man who offers young Gerald a position as his secretary, a position Gerald is only too happy to accept, especially as he is just starting his career and desires a solid foundation for Hester Worsley, the young American he wishes to marry. Things take a turn when Mrs. Arbuthnot, Gerald's mother, meets her son's boss. They immediately recognize each other from this youthful days of indiscretion. Will Gerald learn his father's true identity? What of Lord Illingworth? And how will Mrs. Arbuthnot live with the result? The last line of the play is sure to send any mind reeling with admiration!--Submitted by Marisa B.

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Recent Forum Posts on A Woman of No Importance

Hester

As I was reading this play, I couldn't help but notice that Wilde's Hester is a Puritan, with very idealistic notions of morality and love. I can't help but wonder if Wilde was perhaps thinking at all of the other famous Hester of literature...Hawthorne's Hester Prynne from the Scarlet Letter. Wilde's Hester strikes me as the "happy twin" - if you will - of Hawthorne's. She's a Puritan who does not engage in adultery (by refusing Lord Illington's kiss) and finds true love in the end. Thoughts?


Act I of No Importance

Hello! I am just through reading the Act I of Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance, and in my opinion, Act I was kind of lame- I mean not as brilliantly written as his other plays (I've only read two so far-The Importance of Being Earnest & Lady Windermere's Fan, both of which I think were superbly crafted.) Anyway, back to Act I. There were so many characters (ladies, actually) that it gets annoyingly confusing which lady is married with whom. And thier conversations, I found, were quite a bore. Now Im starting Act II. and thank goodness, it has become more pleasurable to read. This Act, I think is where Wilde brings back the Wilde-ishness that was obviously lost in the first act. This excerpt, spoken by Mrs. Allonby. I found amusiing: Mrs. Allonby: When Ernest and I were engaged, he swore to me positively on his knees that he had never loved anyone before in the whole course of his life. I was very young at that time, so I didn't believe him, I needn't tell you. Unfortunately, however, I made no inquiries of any kind till after I has been actually married four or five months. I found out then that what he had told me was perfectly true. And that sort of thing makes a man so absolutely uninteresting. And this one too, amusing, from Hester, the American, to Lady Hunstanton: Hester :We are trying to build up life, Lady Hunstanton, on a better, purer, basis than life rests on here. This sounds strange to you all, no doubt. How could it sound other than strange? You rich people in England, you don't know how you are living. How could you know? You shut out from your society the gentle and the good. You laugh at the simple and the pure. Living, as you all do, on others and by them, you sneer at self-sacrifice, and if you throw bread to the poor it is merely to keep them quiet for a reason. With all your pomp and wealth and art you don't know how to live-you don't even know that. You love the beauty you can see and touch and handle , the beauty that you can destroy, and do destroy, but of the unseen beauty of life, the unseen beauty of a higher life, you know nothing. You have lost life's secret. Oh, you English society seems to me shallow, selfish, foolish. It has blinded its eyes, and stopped its ears. It lies like a leper in purple. It sits like a dead thing smeared with gold. It is all wrong, all wrong. I hope for better Acts III and IV.


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