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How does Oscar Wilde make Hester and Mrs Arbuthnot contrasting characters? Oscar Wilde has many characters through ‘A Woman of No Importance’ that have contrasting personalities and backgrounds, but the characters with a clear, most definite contrast are Hester and Mrs Arbuthnot. Mrs Arbuthnot is known to the readers of the play and the characters in the play as a ‘fallen woman’. She has run off with at least two men whilst married and has now developed a reputation with the rest of the community.
She is a very flirtatious character and likes to ‘play with fire’.
This means she also will try to get the attention of any man possible. Hester, on the other hand, is very religious and has extremely different morals and views to Mrs Arbuthnot. She doesn’t agree with running off with other men, sex before marriage or flirting with other men, so Hester and Mrs Arbuthnot, in this sense, have different morals. Mrs Arbuthnot’s relationship with Lord Illingworth is very flirtatious and public.
Everyone in the community has heard about them so nothing about them is private.
Hester and Gerald’s relationship on the other hand, is very different. Hester plays almost ‘hard to get’ and doesn’t draw attention to her or the fact that she may like Gerald. She likes to keep her business private so no one knows anything about her to judge her. Mrs Arbuthnot is from England and is very friendly with the higher class people. These people have been born into wealth and don’t like people who have earned their money through working.
However, Hester is from America and has had to work her way up to gain money and to be where she is today.
She doesn’t agree with people being born into wealth and those people looking down on the people who have worked their way up. Both Mrs Arbuthnot and Hester disagree with each other in this sense which shows a contrasting of personalities. On the other hand, Hester says ‘nothing should be out of the reach of hope’, which could seem that Hester doesn’t worry about social class and it doesn’t matter when you are in hierarchy, Finally, Mrs Arbuthnot believes that men are stronger than woman and they have a higher authority and more power than women do.
She has the typical view of a Victorian woman where the men boss the women around and then women do as they are told. Hester believes in equality and has very strong views about it. She believes that all men and women should be valued the same and that no one is any different. Hester is almost like she is saying exactly what Oscar Wilde is thinking. Therefore, throughout this play, Oscar Wilde shows contrasting characters through wealth, class and morals.
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