Women have power over
Victorian era is characterized with men being portrayed as heroes in the
society. It has always tended not to let women take any position and make them
less important and powerful than men. Women had no right to vote and their
education, attitudes and feelings were not taken into consideration. They were
merely the docile severs at home. However, Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw
managed to write beautiful
plays to show that women can be empowering and have their own aim in life.
both “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw and “The important of being Earnest” by
Oscar Wilde, the reader is pushed to understand the drastic change in the
female character’s outlook on their situation, and the concept of making your own
destiny. In both of
these literary works the female characters break the Victorian mentality that women
can only stay at home and do household tasks, and please their husbands. They
are presenting themselves as ingenious and self-assured human beings. In “The
important of being earnest” we have the alluring and charming Gwendolen
Fairfax. A woman who is in love with the protagonist Jack, whom she knows to be
earnest. In Pygmalion,
the character Eliza Doolittle is an impoverished flower girl from London who
transforms into a graceful lady. However,
how do both Gwendolen and Eliza reverse traditional gender roles? In contrast, how do they stick to them? For
the purpose of this essay, I will scrutinize the position of the female
characters and compare them.
I was reading Pygmalion, Eliza Doolittle’s character stood out to me. Eliza is
an impecunious flower girl with a thick accent who lives in London, who turns
out to be a strong and intelligent young woman. Eliza is exceptionally ambitious and wants to
improve herself, she understands that education is the key to fulfil her dream
of becoming a proper lady in a flower shop.
goes to the rude professor Higgins who is a linguist, to get lessons on proper
English language. She is a woman who is
very determined, in order to achieve her goal ,she deals with Higgins’ harsh
and arrogance treatment towards her. During the play Eliza is depicted as being
a vigorous person in many ways. It can be seen that Eliza is fed up
with men treating her as a mere object. There
was a bet between Pickering and Higgins, Pickering bet that Higgins cannot turn
Eliza into a duchess. When Eliza heard about the bet she felt indifferent and
furious. To stand up to Higgins, she grabbed Higgins slippers and hurled them
at him with all her force. Her powerful attitude came to light she replies to
Higgin with: “Because I wanted to smash your face. I’d like to kill you, you
selfish brute”(Shaw 76) She tells Higgins that he has no right to treat her like
an inanimate object. Eliza changes gradually through the play. She becomes a
lady, more importantly, Eliza becomes more independent and self-assertive. Eliza
rejects Higgins and strikes out for her own life. This makes Higgins shift his
attitude towards her. Suddenly, he begins to like her, and sees her as a real
person. She says: ” Yes: you can turn around and make up to me now that I am
not afraid of you, and can do without you” (act 5, page 121)
As for “The
importance of being Earnest” Wilde created two
female characters that break some Victorian gender rules. One of the main female
characters was Gwendolen Fairfax, who is a typical lady of Victorian Era.
Gwendolen Fairfax is well educated, graceful and stylish in appearance and
manner. However, she is not compliant to the values that the society used to
impose at the time. She conveys her impressions and opinions freely and
directly. Gwendolen seems quite confident of herself and sure of what she wants
in life, this can be proven by her line: “I am smart. I intend to develop in
many directions. In fact, I am never wrong.” (Wilde, page 20) Wilde gave Gwendolen’s
character quite a lot of
control over her and Jacks relationship. She shows her power by stating how she
would like Jack to show his admiration for her in public, she tells him: “Yes I am quite aware of the fact. And I
often wish that in public, at any rate, you had been more demonstrative. For me
you have always had an irresistible fascination. Even before I met you I was
far from indifferent to you”. Moreover, Gwendolen’s mother was a typical woman
of Victorian age, whose principles in life are based around social status. Therefore,
her idea of marriage will noticeably be swayed by this.
Since Jack did not have parents, nor social status, Lady Brickell did not see
him fit to marry her daughter Gwendolen. However, Gwendolen was aware of her
future but did not wanted to wait for her parent’s decision about a marriage.
She made decision by herself to get married to Jack, and did not ask her mother
about this. During the Victorian era, it was impossible for unmarried women to
disobey their parents, But Gwendolen’s decision to get married without her family’s consent. She manipulates Jack and express her idea
and opinion, this portrays her power over the situation.
In both plays the
female characters are not afraid to express their opinions and to make choices
about their lives. They have ideas and are working towards self-improvement.
Both women are persistent, smart in pursuit of goals in which they take the
initiative. In “the importance of being Earnest” we notice that Gwendolen was a
very unusual type of character of that time. She is headstrong, stubborn and assertive. She
has more power than the male characters in the play. B1 In “Pygmalion” we see Eliza Doolittle, turning
into a strong woman who stands up against Higgins who treats her as a mere
object, and not as a decent human being. Both writers portray the portal
hypocrisy of people in Victorian era. They are both against the wrongdoing and
prejudgment of the Victorian men about the women.
my opinion, both literary work show that the female characters are stronger than the male characters.
Shaw and Wilde shed a light on gender roles in their plays, they imagine a
society in which women are also powerful figures. They show this through the
role reversals between male and female characters in the play.
B1Try and turn this into a single
sentence and use ‘as’ as a linking word.