What are the themes of Lady Windermere's Fan?

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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There are two major theme's in Wilde's play.

The first is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is insincerity; that is, saying or acting in a way that is not true or real. Most of the characters in Wilde’s play accept hypocrisy as a necessary component of their social world. For example, Dumby agrees with Mrs. Stutfield that the season has been ‘‘delightful,’’ and in the next breath agrees with the Duchess of Berwick that it has been ‘‘dreadfully dull.’’

The second major theme is that of the "bad mother." This play was written during the pinnacle of First Wave Feminism as women fought for suffrage. Women who wanted to "leave home" were often portrayed as evil, abandoning their families for realms that were "rightfully" male (politics, work, etc.). The "bad mother" is Erlynne in Wilde's play, who leaves to pursue her own life.

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