What are the different models of femininity offered in Oscar Wilde's society comedies?
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There is no absolute singular model of femininity offered by Oscar Wilde, but rather many different female characters, some of whom are categorizable into character types. This is especially the case because, as Wilde argues in "The Soul of Man under Socialism", individual freedom is one of his highest values:
A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.
One important comic type is the dowager, outrageously funny in the her nostalgic and authoritative evocation of traditional upper class values (Lady Bracknell is a major example.) His ingenues are normally divided into "new women" with advanced ideas and educations (Cecily) and more traditionally minded young women (Gwendolyn). One also has representatives of the demi-monde, mainly portrayed as damaged by or struggling against social norms.
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