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If there has been consensus hitherto that Wilde was satirising upper class Victorian society in its hypocrisy,

its acceptance of male dominance, its snobbishness and complacency and its indifference to the sufferings of the poor, then all of this can be found in A Woman of No Importance. The hypocrisy can be seen in the way in which normally serious subjects like politics and social problems are dismissed in a light-hearted way, a technique of Wildes that shows the upper class for what they are, while maintaining his reputation as a wit and an aesthete. When Lady Hunstanton, in a moment of dramatic irony in Act IV, tells Gerald, One feels your mothers good influence in everything she has about her Mrs Allonby replies,

Lord Illingworth says that all influence is bad, but that a good influence is the worst in the world.

This is a typical Wilde paradox that says more about the speaker than they intend. Mrs Allonbys quoting of Lord Illingworth betrays her closeness to him, while the flippancy of his comment reveals his unsuitability to be a mentor for Gerald, who was certainly under his influence at the beginning of the play. Mrs Arbuthnots good influence is also his undoing. The comment made by Lady Caroline in Act I about a French governess, She was far too good-looking to be in any respectable household shows the double standards being used, since her qualifications as a teacher are not even mentioned. This is all part of the subtlety with which Wilde satirises the society characters. He also makes use of the humourless Mr Kelvil, who believes that purity is the one subject of really national importance, now-a-days and remarks, I find that the poorer classes of this country display a marked desire for a higher ethical standard. Not only does this imply that the other classes do not have any such desire, but also that those who are supposed to be leaders and therefore setting an example are signally failing in their duty.