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The Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde (1895)

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  1. Lady Bracknell and the art of performance
  2. Lady Bracknell's strategy makes her the instrument of subversion under cover of conformism, she is an agent of misrule from within
  3. Watching Lady Bracknell performing subversion, we attend a scene containing the emergence of the figure of the dandy and introducing the theory of aestheticism

In The Decay of Lying written by Oscar Wilde in 1891, one character named Vivian asserts: " I prefer houses to the open air. In a house we all feel of the proper proportions. Everything is subordinated to us, fashioned for our use and our pleasure." This statement proves to be true in The Importance of being earnest, especially in the passage we are going to study. It is an extract from the third Act taking place in a luxurious indoors setting. Thanks to the stage directions appearing at the beginning of this scene, we are aware of the central role Lady Bracknell is going to play: "Enter Lady Bracknell. The couples separate in alarm." She stands for the judge figure: her very presence has an impact. Lady Bracknell manages there to display her formidable influence over the other characters. In the Manor House, Jack, Cecily and Algernon endorse the role of her audience. We will see that they can be viewed as "fashioned" for Lady Bracknell's "use" and "pleasure".

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