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One should have something sensational to read in the train." Wilde seems to be taking to task a social class that thinks only of itself, showing little compassion or sympathy for the trials of those less fortunate.
The Absence of Compassion Two areas in which the Victorians showed little sympathy or compassion were illness and death.
When Lady Bracknell hears that Bunbury died after his doctors told him he could not live, she feels he has — in dying — acted appropriately because he had the correct medical advice.
Gwendolen, learning from her mother, is totally self-absorbed and definite about what she wants.
She tells Cecily, "I never travel without my diary.
While concerns of the next world would be an appropriate topic for people of this world, it seems to be shoved aside in the Victorian era.
Canon Chasuble is the symbol of religious thought, and Wilde uses him to show how little the Victorians concerned themselves with attitudes reflecting religious faith.When she hears that Jack's "wicked" brother Ernest is around, she is intensely desirous of meeting him.She says to Algernon, "I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time." The thought of meeting someone who lives outside the bounds of prudery and rules is exciting to naïve Cecily.Appearance was everything, and style was much more important than substance.So, while a person could lead a secret life, carry on affairs within marriage or have children outside of wedlock, society would look the other way as long as the appearance of propriety was maintained.Although she asks for bread and butter, Gwendolen is given a large slice of cake.Her true feelings come out only in an aside that Cecily supposedly cannot hear: "Detestable girl!"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.The tea ceremony in Act II is a hilarious example of Wilde's contention that manners and appearance are everything. Both women, thinking they are engaged to the same person, wage a civilized "war" over the tea service while the servants silently watch.When Gwendolen requests no sugar, Cecily adds four lumps to her cup.