Wilde uses the Duchess of Berwick as a character who thrives on pettiness of high society and gossiping as a representation of the upper class having a low morality base. Wilde constructs her as a caricature to emphasise the irony of double standards in society by presenting the idea of contradiction between characters and their morals. The Duchess of Berwick may present herself as high status, but her low morals and constant need to gossip and devalue others degrades her as a character, causing the audience to find her irritating. When visiting Lady Windermere, she doesn’t hesitate in immediately bad-mouthing the friend who’s house she’d literally just come from, describing her tea as ‘quite undrinkable’. The pettiness of the gossiping is also emphasised in order for Wilde to reinforce the idea of the upper class having literally nothing better to do than degrade others. Another interpretation for this could be that Wilde does this to create a sense of insecurity in the upper class. Wilde uses the constant gossiping as a tool to present the idea of characters like Duchess of Berwick being a complete front, and they talk about others as a way of humiliating them in order to boost their own egos as they feel as though there’s nothing more to them than their status and wealth due to the idea of getting a part in society was due to your parents wealth, not down to virtues of values. Mrs Erylnne
Imperative verbs: motherly instincts and wants to offer advice as she is so familiar with the situation herself: ‘I may have wrecked my own life, but I will not let you wreck yours’, ‘one pays for one’s sin, and then one pays again, and all one’s life one pays’, ‘don’t spoil your beautiful young life on my account’, ‘your place is with your child’ PAGE 58: ‘your place is with your child’ – hyperbolic
PAGE 80: speech where she confesses all
Similarly, Wilde conducts the theme of social ostrism further by constructing the character of Mrs Erlynne to emphasise sexual...
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