" Gwendolen is also appalled to find that Cecily is living in Jack's country home, and she inquires about a chaperone.Wilde gives examples again and again of the aristocrat's concern for propriety, that everything is done properly no matter what those good manners might be camouflaging.
Popular Culture The popular attitudes of the day about the French, literary criticism, and books are also subjects of Wilde's humor.
Wilde wittily asserts that Victorians believe that nothing good comes from France, except for (in Wilde's mind) the occasional lesbian maid.
"Illness of any kind is hardly a thing to be encouraged in others.
Health is the primary duty of life." Lady Bracknell, like other aristocrats, is too busy worrying about her own life, the advantages of her daughter's marriage, and her nephew's errors in judgment to feel any compassion for others.
Of course, Jack and Algernon could continue to don their masks after they marry Gwendolen and Cecily, but they will have to be cautious and make sure society is looking the other way.
Passion and Morality Wilde's contention that a whole world exists separate from Victorian manners and appearances is demonstrated in the girlish musings of Cecily.Gwendolen, learning from her mother, is totally self-absorbed and definite about what she wants.She tells Cecily, "I never travel without my diary.They do it so well in the daily papers." Modern books are filled with truths that are never pure or simple, and scandalous books should be read but definitely in secret.Again Wilde criticizes the Victorians for believing that appearance is much more important than truth.Otherwise, France is a good place to kill off and request the burial of Ernest.As the good reverend says, "I fear that hardly points to any very serious state of mind at the last." Literary criticism is for "people who haven't been at a University.For this reason, Wilde questions whether the more important or serious issues of the day are overlooked in favor of trivial concerns about appearance. Her marriage proposal must be performed correctly, and her brother even practices correct proposals.Gwendolen's aristocratic attitude is "In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing." The trivial is important; the serious is overlooked.Duty and Respectability The aristocratic Victorians valued duty and respectability above all else.Earnestness — a determined and serious desire to do the correct thing — was at the top of the code of conduct.