In the play of ‘A Woman of No Importance’ Oscar Wilde gradually and effectively introduces the characters of the play in a fashionably manner. The play is quite naturalistic so Wilde commences the opening of act one with a social conversation. The purpose of the play is to portray women’s attitudes and views on their current century. Each of the characters introduced in the play is unique from one another, they’re point of view on life in general is diverse.
To create a contrast between the characters in the play, Oscar Wilde introduces the personalities of Hester and Lady Caroline. This enables Wilde to illustrate different ideas, customs and perception of society from both the American and British points of view. Hester Worsely is presented to the audience as a care-free and open minded American girl.
She speaks her mind with ease and has no problem in answering back to the witty and clever Lady Caroline. “Lady Caroline: Have you any country? What we should call country?Hester [smiling]: We have the largest country in the world, Lady Caroline…
” Lady Caroline is trying to insult Hester by defaming America, however, Hester not taking any offence, answers Lady Caroline rather enthusiastically. This shows the difference in the way people speak in England and the way people in America speak. As the act continues, Wilde shows the audience how the characters disguise their criticism for each other under a facade. An example of a disguised criticism would be from Lady Caroline towards Mrs.Allonby: “Lady Caroline: It is said, of course, that she ran away twice before she was married… I myself don’t believe she ran away more than once.
” Although Lady Caroline is putting down Mrs Allonby, she masks it by giving her opinion on how she doesn’t believe in the rumour. Soon more characters are shown entering the stage, very casually, and joining in on the conversation already taking place. Lady Hunstanton, who is the host to invite Hester, comes into the garden where all are seated.
As she converses with the ladies present, Gerald Arbuthnot enters.Gerald Arbuthnot is a working class man, who has been given the chance to be Lord Illingworth’s secretary. Hearing this news, Lady Caroline remarks that he has been given a privilege whereas Hester questions Gerald if he’s happy about it. This again contrasts the difference of the characters in the play. “Lady Caroline: That is a very wonderful opening for so young a man as you are, Mr. Arbuthnot.
Hester: Are you very pleased about it? ” Throughout the beginning of the act, the upper class characters have been shown sitting idly in their seats, and the footman moving around the stage.This is yet another trait that Wilde is portraying to the audience about the upper class. As the scenes proceed more characters are introduced, two of them are Mrs. Allonby and Lady Stutfield.
Mrs. Allonby is portrayed as one those ladies that enjoy gossips and are eager to hear about the latest scandals that take place in their society. “Mrs. Allonby: But somehow, I feel sure that if I lived in the country for six months, I should become so unsophisticated that no one would take the slightest notice of me. ” This tells the audience that Mrs.Allonby likes to shine in the spotlight with everyone’s focus on her. However, Lady Hunstanton reassures her that rural areas are as much scandalous as the city areas. This manner shows that Wilde is ridiculing the upper class and their way of thought.
Wilde also uses context and imagery to the characters’ speech, as directness was uncommon during the Victorian Era. “Lady Caroline: Young women… seem to make it the sole object of their lives to be always playing with fire. ” The annotations of ‘playing with fire’ suggests to the audience that