“The Importance of being Earnest” : Centuries & Marriage
Throughout the years marriage has evolved in many ways. Women now have more rights and privileges, love plays a major role in the matrimonies that take place, an engagement is entered into and neither person has to approach it like it is a business deal, and people do not have guidelines or rules to follow. Courtship was cruel to both men and women, it did not allow them to get to know other people. Now, couples can test compatibility before entering into marriage.
Author Oscar Wilde in his book “The Importance of Being Earnest” shows that Throughout the entire play, marriage and ethics serve as the catalyst for the play, stimulating the plot and raising speculation about the moral character of each person. The characters skipped courtship and went straight to marriage. However, in the play the characters are constantly worried about who they are going to marry and why they would marry them. This theme is the most prevalent theme throughout the play and shows what impact marriage had on a Victorian society. During the Victorian era, women had to get married to a man of the same or better class and their parents would choose the man for their daughters to marry. Gwendolen’s mother, Lady Bracknell had that in her intentions, but Gwendolen had a mind of her own (as women do today) and did not hide that from Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen did not know man that well but she wanted to marry a man with a name that spoke to her and Ernest was the name.
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The old-fashion name of dating is called “courtship.” During courtship, a couple would get to know each other. Courtship was considered more a business move than a romantic interlude for young men, as all of a woman’s possessions returned to him upon marriage.The fundamental difference between courtship and dating is freedom it had its own set rules and rituals. According to the article “Fashion & Courtship in the Victorian era”, a woman could never be alone with a gentleman. A chaperone had to be present at all times, supervising meetings and time spent together. A single woman could never begin a conversation with a gentleman without having a formal introduction first. No physical contact of any kind could occur during courtship. The only exception to this rule was if a couple was walking on a bumpy road and the gentleman extended his hand to help steady the woman. As courtship evolved throughout the years it less restricted and more personal. Today, people can truly get to know whoever want to without having to follow any rules. Women can choose who to test compatibility with without having their parents choose for them.
After courtship, permission for asking for the daughter’s hand in marriage had to be granted by bride’s father. The couple could have a little more intimacy once they were engaged. They were allowed to meet behind closed doors but had to be dutifully separated by nightfall. The men while dating a woman were discreet to never break an engagement as it tarnished the woman’s reputation. Fashion was very important in the Victorian era. The wedding attire was important and had to be strictly followed for the wedding. The type and color of dress depended on their social status. It is said in this article that teenage girls when they married had to wear pale green which was the color of fertility, a mature girl in her twenties wore a brown dress, and older women wore black. During the 18th century, only poor girls wore white which signified that she brought nothing with her. After marriage, the Victorian women focused all of their attentions on fulfilling their duties as a wife and mother.
The dating during the Victorian period was very different from what it is today. People meet, date, fall in love, and get married. How people meet varies they could meet anywhere. The social class between families and income levels are not as important as they used to be. People still date and marry despite their social or industrial status. Modern day women are usually working wives and mothers. Women have a lot more say in decisions and matters of the home than they used to. They also have a lot more control and rights. Couples have a lot more intimacy and they do not have guidelines or rules to follow.