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Authors: ÇÜN, Başak
Keywords: Social Construction
Class Divisions
Gender Roles
Marriage, Deconstruction,
Issue Date: 2019
Abstract: This dissertation attempts to reveal how social construction of gender roles is disrupted in three plays of the prominent late Victorian poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde. As in all social constructs, what seems permanently attached to genders is merely an illusion carried out to regulate people in terms of their individual and collective choices. People are trained from the earliest stages of life to become either women or men, and they are forced to keep on performing the roles imposed upon their genders throughout their lives. As a homosexual himself, Wilde challenges these roles without placing one sex before another. In Lady Windermere’s Fan, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, he destroys all moral balances in order to create a new perception where no strict borders exist to separate the gender traits from one another; hence, neither women nor men are able to fit into the groups of “good” or “bad” in the way Victorian society compels them to. The first chapter issues the constructs of angelic and corrupt women, pointing out the impact of morality on female and male identities. Though being aware of the moral requirements, characters get out of their pre-given roles and forge an environment where it is not possible to define the correct manners of a woman and a man. In the second chapter, I focus on the construct of the perfect husband and the ways through which people, wife being in the first place, feed with this ideal and then face the reality: a man lays out several manners that contradict the beliefs attributed to him as a decent man. Lastly, the third play reveals all the hypocrisy women and men display in order to gain acceptance in marriages. Portrayed as typical Victorian characters, they either deviate from their moral grounds, or trivialize love and courtship, serving to undermine the superficial atmosphere where neither women nor men appear truly dignified. By drawing on these three plays, this study demonstrates that Wilde removes the borders of gender identities and violates the patterns womanhood and manhood are perceived in; therefore, former gender categories lose their credibility and transform into a new, chaotic pattern.
Appears in Collections:Tezler -- Thesis

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