How are the men in Lady Windermere's Fan representatives of the time?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The gentlemen that are portrayed in Lady Windermere's Fan include:

Lord Darlington- A dandy who is in love with Lady Windermere. He is representative of the Victorian era in that, he is part of the upper crust of society considered "good enough company" to interact with the jet set of which the Windermeres are a part.  He is representative of Romantic (Naturalistic) literature in that he has a battle with his emotions, which he will inevitably lose: Lady Windermere will not return his affections, and he will leave the city.

Lord Augustus "Tuppy" Lorton- Another dandy, he is the brother of the Duchess of Berwick. A lover of the ladies like Lord Darlington,  he hopes to win the love of Mrs. Erlynne. He is the traditional Victorian romantic, who woos and escorts his love interest until the end. He, like Darlington, also belongs to the "fashionable set" of the Victorian upper-classes.

Lord Arthur Windermere, the main character, is perhaps the biggest representative of the men of the era in several ways: First, he imposes his gender over his wife by obligating her to receive a woman of whom she suspects him to be cheating with. This is indicative of the clear chauvinistic nature of the times, where women are considered second class citizens.

Second, he underestimates the power of Mrs Erlynne precisely because he is too arrogant and chauvinistic to think that women are as capable of evil and wrongdoing as men.

Third, he takes a major risk by racketeering in order to make his fortune. Now that he is a Lord, has lots of money and now has a young wife he tries to live the Victorian ideal of success: Money,reputation, and standing.  Yet, when Mrs. Erlynne enters his life, he sees his image potentially crumbling down. It is this preoccupation with image and social standing what makes Lord Windermere a typical example of the hypocritical Victorian upper classes who live above their means and wear social masks.