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Tiffany Chesson When Cecily meets Gwendolen in Act II, Cecily and Gwendolen desperately want to be rude to each other but the strict rules of Victorian social etiquette mean that they have to be polite. How do they find ways to subtly insult each other in this section of the play? Just before this section begins Ernest (Jack) has proposed to Gwendolen and Ernest (Algernon) has proposed to Cecily. When the girls meet they discover they are both engaged to "Ernest Worthing", who they think is the same man but, as the reader knows is in fact two different people. When they discover this they feel competitive for Ernest's affection and hand in marriage, they feel resentful towards each other and want to disrespect each other. They want to behave this way but they cannot because of Victorian social etiquette. Instead of openly being rude to each other they subtly insult each other by using sarcastic comments and offending where they each live. I am going to explain how Cecily and Gwendolen cleverly insult each other when they meet in Act II. Firstly the girls change how they address each other; "Dearest Gwendolen" becomes "Miss Fairfax" and, "My Darling Cecily" becomes, "Miss Cardew" this change shows that they do not like each other; people are friends when ...read more.


Another example of this is when Cecily says, "It would distress me more than I could tell you, dear Gwendolen, if it causes you any mental or physical anguish, but I feel bound to point out that since Ernest proposed to you he has clearly changed his mind." Cecily has insulted Gwendolen because she has basically said, in a very polite way, that Ernest obviously prefers her to Gwendolen, which is why he proposed to her after Gwendolen because he changed his mind. The girls cleverly use word play to insult each other; Cecily says, "When I see a spade I call it a spade," Gwendolen changes the use of the word "spade" to make it mean a gardening tool and says, "I am glad to say I have never seen a spade." Cecily means that she speaks bluntly about things, but Gwendolen changes this to mean a gardening tool and says she has never seen a spade, implying that she is too rich to know of gardening tools. The girls subtly insult each other by talking about their future with Ernest, Gwendolen says, "If the poor fellow has been entrapped into any foolish promise I shall consider it my duty to rescue him at once." ...read more.


Gwendolen says, "Personally I cannot understand how anybody manages to exist in the country, if anybody who is anybody does." By saying this Gwendolen is suggesting that Cecily has a very low social status because she lives in the country. I think Cecily is more insulting because she makes the most valid points and Gwendolen often says comments that also offend Ernest. I think they did have some good points but they did say a few ridiculous things. Cecily has said much more valid points and her insults are very sly and subtle, however Gwendolens insults often offend Ernest as well as Cecily and her insults are fairly obvious. Oscar Wilde has cleverly written this section so that neither of them has any idea that they are talking about different men so are fighting for no reason. He has used excellent techniques to convey their rudeness, however in doing so he has not made the insults any less obvious, such as using their actions to portray rudeness, also undermining each other as they do on many occasions, additionally Wilde effectively shows rudeness through the way they address each other. I think Wilde does an excellent job in making the girls be subtly insulting towards each other. ...read more.

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