A WOMAN OF NOIMPORTANCE Introduction: Oscar Wilde was an Anglo-Irish playwright, novelist,poet, and critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest playwrights of theVictorian Era. In his lifetime he wrote nine plays, one novel, and numerouspoems, short stories, and essays. Wilde was admired as an artist in the prudish VictorianEngland, He was famous for his eloquence, extravagant behavior and criticism ofthe upper class. Some of his works include ‘The importance of being Earnest’, ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’, ‘AWoman of No Importance’, ‘An Ideal Husband’ and ‘Salome’.
AWoman of no Importance was written by Oscar Wilde in 1893. The play centersaround the double standards of the 1800s. It showcases troubling attitudes towardsthe role and expectations of women in the Victorian Era. The play premiered at London’s Haymarket Theatreon April 19, 1893 and proceeded to run for 113 performances.Plot: The main plot of the play revolves around awoman, Mrs. Arbuthnot, who is an unwed mother with one grown son. Peoplebelieve her to be a widow.
In a strange turn of events, her son, Gerald, isoffered a job by, Lord Illingworth, a scrupulous, unprincipled man, who alsohappens to be his father. Gerald has to make a choice whether to take the joboffered by his father or to remain loyal to his mother who raised him alone.Characters:Mrs Rachel Arbuthnot: Mrs Rachel Arbuthnot is the unwed motherof Gerald. She is a thoughtful, and adorable mother who goes through alot of agony and suffering while raising Gerald on her own. She isfrustrated and lonely as Lord Illingworth did not want to marry her when shewas pregnant. She is an honest and sensitive woman who cannot let go ofher past. She despises the shallow upper class society. However shestill has a wonderful reputation in the community.
Lord George Illingworth: Lord Illingworth is a member of thehouse of the Lords. He is Gerald Arbuthnot’s father and refused to givehim a name at the time of his conception. He doesn’t feel any pity for anyone but himself thoughhe manages to keep up appearances. He is quitewell-off but is still excessively flirtatious andindecent. He is a liar, acts cold-bloodedly and lives hislife without caring about others.
Themes: Double standards of the Victorian Era: Theplay ‘AWoman of No Importance’, explores the double standards that existedbetween men and women in the Victorian Era. The indiscretions of men wereforgiven far more readily than women. Women were more condemned for their moralfailings and had fewer rights as well.Through our exploration of the characters in thisplay, we will also unfold the plot. The plot is very simple, but it is thepsychological interactions between the characters that reveal a darker side tothe Victorian Era. The theme of this story really is that a double standardexisted for women and men during this time period. Women were not treatedequally.