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Oscar Wilde: A Woman of No Importance
3. THIRD ACT (continued)
GERALD. I should like to wear nice things awfully, but I have always been told that a man should not think too much about his clothes.
LORD ILLINGWORTH. People nowadays are so absolutely superficial that they don't understand the philosophy of the superficial. By the way, Gerald, you should learn how to tie your tie better. Sentiment is all very well for the button-hole. But the essential thing for a necktie is style. A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life.
GERALD. [Laughing.] I might be able to learn how to tie a tie, Lord Illingworth, but I should never be able to talk as you do. I don't know how to talk.
LORD ILLINGWORTH. Oh! talk to every woman as if you loved her, and to every man as if he bored you, and at the end of your first season you will have the reputation of possessing the most perfect social tact.
GERALD. But it is very difficult to get into society isn't it?
LORD ILLINGWORTH. To get into the best society, nowadays, one has either to feed people, amuse people, or shock people - that is all!
GERALD. I suppose society is wonderfully delightful!
LORD ILLINGWORTH. To be in it is merely a bore. But to be out of it simply a tragedy. Society is a necessary thing. No man has any real success in this world unless he has got women to back him, and women rule society. If you have not got women on your side you are quite over. You might just as well be a barrister, or a stockbroker, or a journalist at once.
GERALD. It is very difficult to understand women, is it not?
LORD ILLINGWORTH. You should never try to understand them. Women are pictures. Men are problems. If you want to know what a woman really means - which, by the way, is always a dangerous thing to do - look at her, don't listen to her.
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