Wilde, Women, and Today’s World

“It is the usual history of a man and a woman as it usually happens, as it always happens. And the ending is the ordinary ending. The woman suffers. The man goes free.”

So says Mrs Arbuthnot to son Gerald in Wilde’s ‘A Woman of No Importance’, as she begins to explain her discord with a proposition he puts forward about the future. Her sentiment stems from personal experience, carrying with her as she does years of untold secrets, and a fate condemning of her alone. But in this day and age, with a shifting social landscape, and battles for equality being waged (and won) across many fronts, to what extent do her words still ring true?

(Spoilers within.)

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The Seagull

“Your turning cold on me is terrible, I can’t believe it, it’s as if I’d woken up and found the lake had suddenly dried up or drained away into the ground.”

Having recently been in a bit of a reading rut, of late I’ve found myself turning away from the more conventional novels on my reading list, and opting for plays instead. This in turn has lead me away from my To-Be-Read pile entirely, and towards a longstanding favourite: Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull’.

Now though it is obviously a multi-layered piece, at its heart, it tells the story of a young playwright and his doomed relationships with the women that surround him. And so if you asked me to summarise the play in oh, say, fourteen lines, I think I would end up with something that went a little like this:

(Spoilers within.)

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