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What is Wilde's dramatic purpose in Lady Caroline in Act 1?

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What is Wilde's dramatic purpose in Lady Caroline in Act 1? In Oscar Wilde's play 'A woman of no importance' Wilde creates a dramatic feeling of purpose using the character of Lady Caroline several times throughout the first act. She starts the first act by immediately showing her self importance and high opinion of herself by delivering the opening line in first person 'I believe this is the first English country house you have stayed at, Miss Worsley?' she repeats this throughout her conversation with Hester to reinforce her authority as her disapproval of Hester is evident from the beginning. She continues to reassert her authority in her home as she disagrees her husband and talks over him as if he is her lesser in order to show Hester that she has a superior influence as she questions lady Hunstantons wisdom in inviting Hester over to England which immediately makes the audience feel a sense of tension and rivalry adding to the dramatic purpose of Lady Caroline, 'I think ...read more.


Lady Caroline has a cynical view of America in general shown by her dismissal of Hester's reference to America 'I have no doubt of it' However Hester tries to establish good mood and feeling among the pair and the rest of the group by giving an enthusiastic appraisal of Mr Arbuthnot 'Mr Arbuthnot has a beautiful nature!' This once again does not impress Lady Caroline and she once again refers to how English customs are not the same as American, 'It is not customary in England, Miss Worsley, for a young lady to speak with such enthusiasm of any person of the opposite sex' This view of English women being far superior to American women is a dramatic one and it a theme brought up throughout the play. When the host Lady Hunstanton enters the scene Lady Caroline wastes no time in making a swift sarcastic quip on her view of Hester. ...read more.


Not only is her upper-class view of England evident but also her disapproval at Lord Illingworth remaining unmarried. Later on in the scene Lady Caroline reminds the audience of her dominance over her husband with a brief exchange with john regarding his footwear, 'You better go and put on your overshoes at once' 'I am quite comfortable, Caroline, I assure you' 'You must allow me to be the best judge of that John' This treatment of her husband shows that Lady Caroline is well and truly in the driving seat in her marriage and that he almost has no say in his own decisions. This is more of the typical dramatic behaviour that Lady Caroline exerts throughout the entire act and to a certain extent the whole play. Lady Caroline's relationship with Hester and john create a dramatic mood that surrounds her during the first act of the play and Wilde uses it to create good conflict and tension between the characters and the story progresses. Alex Duncan ...read more.

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