A Feminist Reading of Oscar Wilde’s a Woman of No Importance

Mushfiqua Fatima
Dr. Deena Forkan
ENG 521
11 September 2013
              A Feminist Reading of Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance
The term ‘feminism’ first appeared in Great Britain in 1890, the last stage of Victorian era. Like other patriarchal society and country Britain had never welcomed the concept of feminism so easily and quickly. Rather they were quite hostile, this was definitely very usual then, to the feminists who were fighting for establishing woman’s rights. Even Queen Victoria was heard describing the issue as “mad, wicked folly of ‘Woman’s Rights’”. The subjugation and exploitation of women is not new in history. Victorian society was no exception to that. Women were portrayed and also suggested to portray themselves as ‘the angel in the house’. There were conduct books for women advocating the typical ‘feminine ideal’ and lecturing on what should be women’s proper role in the society. Looking after husband and children and home was considered as the sole object of a women’s life. The society also made a “concrete interpretation of the concept of feminine sphere” (Goreau). They were denied access to the public life and were advised to be confined in the domestic arena. When this was the case, surprisingly many female authors were seen emerging during this time like Brontë Sisters, George Eliot, and Elizabeth Gaskell etc. depicting the miserable condition of the women in their writing. Not only the female authors, but also many male authors like George Gissing, George Meredith, Henrik Ibsen, and Oscar Wilde etc. were pointing out the discrepancy of the social system, especially the sufferings of women, through their writing. In this paper I like to read Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance from feministic point of view in order to see the real condition of women in Victorian era and also to see whether male writers were impartial enough in representing the real dilemmas of the society regarding feminist issues. It will also investigate...