Comparing the Roles of Women in Arcadia, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Look Back in AngerIn Arcadia, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Look Back in Anger, the women characters play distinct roles in the dramas. However, the type of roles, the type of characters portrayed, and the purpose the women’s roles have in developing the plot and themes vary in each play. As demonstrated by The Importance of Being Earnest and Look Back in Anger, the majority of women’s roles ultimately reflect that women in British society were viewed to be unequal to men in love and in relationships and generally the weaker sex, emotionally, physically and intellectually. However, I have found an exception to this standard in the play Arcadia, in which Thomasina Coverly plays the role of a young genius.
In Oscar Wilde’s drama The Importance of Being Earnest, he uses light-hearted tones and humor to poke fun at British high society while handling the serious theme of truth and the true identity of who is really “Earnest.” Truth as theme is most significantly portrayed through the women characters, Gwendolen and Cecily but to present serious themes comically, Wilde portrays women to be the weaker sex of society, despite the seriousness of the subject—the identity of the men they want to marry.
Gwendolen and Cecily act like air-heads and are easily won over by the men they plan to marry. Gwendolen simply wants to marry a man named Earnest. She tells Jack “my ideal has always been to love someone of the name of Ernest” (I.381-82). The mere idea of marrying a man for his name shows how easily Gwendolen can attach herself to a man. Marriage is the most serious of all relationships and Gwendolen is foolish to deter…
…, Stoppard’s creation of Thomasina opens the door of opportunity in the world of drama for more women characters to be created with the same intelligence and respect in regards to love as well as academics.Works Cited
Fleming, John. Stoppard’s Theater: Finding Order amid Chaos. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001.
Nadel, Ira. Tom Stoppard: A Life. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.
Osborne, John. Look Back in Anger. New York: Penguin, 1982.
Stoppard, Tom. Arcadia. London: Faber and Faber, 1993.
Thompson, Doreen. “Stoppard’s Idea of Woman: ‘Good, Bad, or Indifferent?’.” Ed. Anthony Jenkins. Critical Essays on Tom Stoppard. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1990. 194-203.
Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. Peter Raby, ed. Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays. London: Oxford University Press, 1995. 247-307.