Before marriage, they would learn housewife skills such as weaving, cooking, washing, and cleaning, unless they were of a wealthy family.The stamp of masculine approval was placed upon ignorance of the world, meekness, lack of opinions, general helplessness and weakness; in short, recognition of female inferiority to the male (Petrie 184).During the Victorian era, men and women searched for an ideal relationship based on the expectations of a demanding society.
If a man or woman did not posses the qualities desired by the Victorian society, the opposite sex may have dismissed the person as an unsuitable mate.
Women in the Victorian society had one main role in life, which was to marry and take part in their husbands interests and business.
Because the Gwendolyn and Cecily do not have knowledge of the mens deceit, both women are happy that they have found a man whose named Earnest, but this instance by making idealism consist in wanting to marry a man called Ernest, and self-righteous indignation is briefly mocked when the two girls declare that they have been deceived by Jack and Algernon (Jackson 166).
Jack and Algernon knew Cecily and Gwendolyn would not marry them unless their names were Earnest; therefore, they had to pretend they were really called by this name and consequently put their relationships in danger because of dishonesty from the beginning of the relationship.
The men were set up for failure and a deceitful relationship from the very start.
Relationships rarely work when the dishonesty card is played, but the men still lied in order to live up to Gwendolyn and Cecilys ideal men.
Petries article, Victorian Women Expected to Be Idle and Ignorant, states, From infancy all girls who were born above the level of poverty had the dream of a successful marriage before their eyes, for by that alone was it possible for a woman to rise in the world (Petrie 180).
When discussing men and masculinity, she quotes scholar John Tosh: Becoming a man, Tosh claims, involved detaching oneself from the home and its feminine comforts and achieving a level of material success in the wider world including the recognition of manhood by ones peers (Ranum 242).
Michael Patrick Gillespie, author of The Picture of Dorian Gray: What the World Thinks of Me, states, throughout the nineteenth century certain valuesduty, respectability, commercial success, middle-class moralityoccupied a central position in the Victorian consciousness (Gillespie 5).
Being able to work through any hardships and succeed financially providing for the family reflected that a man was successful in the workforce as well, which made him respectable by his peers and other men in society.
Prescribing the notion that women were born to dream of marriage, Cecily and Gwendolyn, from The Importance of Being Earnest, are caught up in the fantasies of the perfect marriage to the perfect earnest husband.