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A Woman of No Importance
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A Woman of No Importance

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For use alongside extract used in lesson - A2 English Lit AQA spec A - LITA3

For use alongside extract used in lesson - A2 English Lit AQA spec A - LITA3


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  • 1. A Woman of No ImportanceOscar Wilde (1893)
  • 2. 4-6 Gerald, come near…mother’s ownboyThis could be viewed as emotional blackmail, as Mrs Arbuthnot recalls her son’s childhood and asserts a sense of ownership in her relationship with him.
  • 3. 8 there was a girl once Mrs Arbuthnot is, in fact, speaking about her own history
  • 4. 11-12 She knew nothing…everything this statement illustrates the vulnerability of young women in Victorian England, presenting them as defenceless, naïve and innocent, the easy prey of privileged young men.
  • 5. 12-13 he made this girl love him Mrs Arbuthnot presents herself as the victim through the word made, suggesting that she had no choice
  • 6. 13-14 she left her father’s house withhim one morning this is an acknowledgment of a moral transgression – it was completely contrary to Victorian morality and society’s attitudes to marriage.
  • 7. 15 he had promised to marry her this statement serves to illustrate her simplicity and vulnerability as a young woman
  • 8. 20-1 before her child was born introduces the main issue of her story in an understated manner, which serves to maximize the effect of the revelation.
  • 9. 25-7 her life was ruined… ruined also the reiteration of the word ruined emphasizes the effect of giving birth to a child outside marriage in Victorian England. Wilde creates an image of a woman lost not just to society but to herself
  • 10. 27-8 She suffered terribly – she suffersnow the use of the past and present tenses reinforces the permanent nature of the effect on the woman’s life.
  • 11. 31-2 wears a mask… a leper these terms create an image of a woman who is forced to hide the truth from everyone to avoid being shunned as if she were diseased.
  • 12. 32-3 the fire… her anguish the use of fire and water as images of purification again serve to stress the terrible sense of guilt that haunts Mrs Arbuthnot
  • 13. 33-5 Nothing… lost soul the repeated use of exclamation marks and the staccato sentences all serve to emphasize her abject misery
  • 14. 36 that is why the repetition of this phrase clinches the argument and seems almost to echo the rhetoric of a court of law
  • 15. 38 My dear mother do Gerald’s first words appear patronizing and hollow???!!
  • 16. 43 No nice girl the repetition of the empty word nice reveals Gerald’s limited sensitivity and also reflects Victorian attitudes towards ‘fallen’ women.