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Both plays are from the same period and use comic techniques hinging on issues of false identities. More importantly, both plays address the "woman question." For both Wilde and Shaw the issues of women and careers were twofold. First, there was the practical issue of how women could earn their livings outside marriage, and second was the issue of how rich women who did not need to work, could employ their intelligence productively. Mrs. Prism shows the limitations of the traditional female occupations of novelist and governess, albeit humorously. Cecily, in Earnest, is potentially a "New Woman" like Vivie, but relegated to use her education in the trivial arena of high society. Although Mrs. Warren succeeds in amassing wealth froim her brothel, she fails to model a viable option for the new woman because ideologically she remain mired in the conventional role of supporting herself by pleasing men, and in the end proves less willing to break gender role conventions than her daughter Vivie.
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