244 paper3

244 paper3 - Broome 6 Erica Broome Paper 3 Marriage: A...

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Broome 6 Erica Broome Engl244 Paper 3 5/11/09 Marriage: A Trivial Comedy Only For Some The element of marriage is one that has always been deeply rooted in every culture and every society. Although it may have thousands of different meaning and connotations across the globe, it is something that has evolved and grown throughout the centuries into a necessity that many societies revere as one of the keys to a complete life. While studying Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest as well as Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale , the evolution of attitudes towards marriage between the 17 th and 19 th centuries is remarkably contrast and somewhat surprising. While The Importance of Being Earnest discusses marriage as a series of arrangements and life pleasures with little consequence, in The Winter’s Tale it is treated with the utmost importance and seriousness, emphasizing the consequences of marriage. The men in Wilde’s play are unsure as to whether marriage is a pleasant or unpleasant matter, and if it is even a matter of business or pleasure. When Jack mentions to Algernon his plan for proposal to Gwendolyn, Algernon is disappointed in him and in his dedication to this “business proposal”, as he calls it, and explains that “If ever I get married, I’ll certainly try to forget the fact” (494), as he believes that marriage takes away the uncertainty that is meant to be in romance, and with it the excitement vanishes completely. Marriage is thought of as a game and a dull ending, and Algernon seems to have no interest in it whatsoever. These examples run throughout the entirety of the play, and almost every character has an unconventional attitude towards marriage, which is characterized by the lax and inconsequential ways in which they view it. From Lady Bracknell’s series of interviews and requirements for proposal, to Gwendolyn and Cecily’s readiness to forgive their men on the basis that they are “sure to change”, Wilde has
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Broome 6 made every character in the story base their approach to marriage on a set of assumptions about the nature of it as a social responsibility and its contribution to their character, both from a private perspective as well as a public one. Most importantly, there is little discussion of the life consequences of a marriage and the moral responsibilities that come along with it. In Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale , the element of marriage is treated as a central aspect of life and is by no means taken lightly or viewed inconsequentially. It is intertwined with themes of death and depression, and is represented as a necessity of life that involves extreme emotions and that can often define an individual’s existence and relationship to all others around him or her. At the beginning of the play, when Leontes first assumes his queen’s infidelity, he equates her flirtatious gestures to Polixenes to actions nefarious enough to reduce her existence to nothingness, as he famously remarks, “Is this nothing? Why, then the world and all that's in't is
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2011 for the course ENGL 244 taught by Professor Bossert during the Spring '09 term at Maryland.

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244 paper3 - Broome 6 Erica Broome Paper 3 Marriage: A...

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