How is the expectation of marriage (at the time) shown in the "interview" scene with Lady Bracknell & Earnest in The Importance of Being Earnest?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Importance of Being Earnest the social expectations of marriage are very evident in the interview that Lady Bracknell conducts to determine whether Jack (Ernest) Worthing is good enough for her daughter. Among the questions that she asked are a) How much money was he worth?  b) Whether he had land  c) How much of his earnings come from savings and investments, d) whether he smoked (which she agreed to as a form of "entertainment"), and whether he comes from a lineage that could be traced. This latter one was the one that sank Ernest to the bottom of the Lady's list of suitable gentlemen because one of the expectations was to marry both name, lineage, fortune and acquisitions.

Therefore, her interview intended to know about Jack's income, properties, social status, his gentlemanly practices in society, and his status in general. It did not work, however, because of the simple fact of not having a family name to which to trace a lineage.

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The Importance of Being Earnest

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