The Woman Of No Importance

by Oscar Wilde

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"The Youth Of America Is Their Oldest Tradition"

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Last Updated on June 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 190

Context: Lady Hunstanton has invited several guests to her country home, among them Hester Worsley, a young American woman who had entertained Lady Hunstanton's son in Boston when he was visiting there. Before the appearance of the hostess, Lady Caroline Pontefract tells Hester a little about the other guests. Hester says she has already met Gerald Arbuthnot, a bank employee, and found him charming. When Gerald arrives, he announces that he has been offered the job of secretary to Lord Illingworth. Gerald then invites Hester to take a stroll, and shortly after their departure, Lord Illingworth arrives. Illingworth makes several uncomplimentary remarks about America, finally commenting that when bad Americans die they go to America. The remark makes another guest, Kelvil, a member of Parliament, say to him: "I am afraid you don't appreciate America, Lord Illingworth. It is a very remarkable country, especially considering its youth."

"The youth of America is their oldest tradition. It has been going on now for three hundred years. To hear them talk one would imagine they were in their first childhood. As far as civilization goes they are in their second."

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