The Importance of Being Earnest Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

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How would you describe Lady Bracknell, and how is she used to satirize the upper class?

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Lady Bracknell represents the Victorian upper-class, born into wealth and status and obsessed with its maintenance. She is the image of the period’s fascination with propriety, and her primary concern during the play is ensuring that her daughter Gwendolyn makes a match that can be considered favorable for their class and her connections. When it is discovered that Jack has no such connections (and in fact, that he was a discovered orphan with no known parentage), Lady Bracknell gives a firm no.

To illustrate how her character is a satirized version of her class, you must look for quotes that reveal an exaggerated concern with either propriety or status. This is usually presented ironically—an inversion of one’s typical expectations for how one should feel or react. One example is in Lady Bracknell’s treatment of Bunbury in the first scene. Rather than show concern for Algernon’s ailing friend, Lady Bracknell is annoyed because his illness prevents Algernon’s presence at her...

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