Lady Windermere's Fan Themes

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Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy can be defined as pretending to be something one is not or feigning to believe in something one does not. Most of the characters in Wilde's play accept hypocrisy as a necessary component of their social world. People in high society must pretend, must conform to the social norm in order to maintain their position. Hypocrisy is the glue that holds together a complex web of relationships; if the truth were to come out, these relationships would fall apart.

Lies are a necessary tool to avoid conflict. For example, Dumby agrees with Mrs. Stutfield that the season has been "delightful," and in the next breath agrees with the Duchess of Berwick that it has been "dreadfully dull." Likewise, the Duchess of Berwick tells Lady Windermere that her nieces never gossip, then later declares that they always gossip.

Hypocrisy is distinguished from virtuous lies, which are told to...

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This section contains 419 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Lady Windermere's Fan from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.