In Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," are the women presented as victims of the men's schemings?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Women are certainly not presented as victims to the men's schemings in Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. In fact, the women seem to be in charge and composed when dealing with the men's antics and lies. The fun irony of the situation is that the girls won't marry men whose names aren't Ernest. In a way, this gives them more control over the men than they know; and, Aunt Augusta isn't taking anyone's word but her own.

The only time the girls are weakened from their positions is when they accept the men back into the realtionships without an apology for the lies. Gwendolen says in Act III that she will not change her views on marrying a man by the name of Ernest by saying, "I never change, except in my affections." To that end Jack is lucky because he finds out that his real birth name was Ernest, but Cecily accepts Algernon even though his lies are revealed. (Cecily's acceptance is inferred because the issue of Algernon's name never comes up again after that; therefore, there is no quote to satisfy the issue.)

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The Importance of Being Earnest

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