Lady Bracknell (to Cecily): Pretty child! your dress is sadly simple, your hair seems almost as Nature might have left it. But we can soon alter all that. A thoroughly experienced French maid produces a really marvellous result in a very brief space of time. I remember recommending one to young Lady Lancing, and after three months her own husband did not know her.

Jack: And after six months nobody knew her.

(Bolding my own.)

What does "nobody knew her" imply and is Lady Bracknell now recommending this maid to Cecily too for a makeover?

1 Answer 1


Lady Bracknell is indeed suggesting that Cecily get a makeover, though not necessarily by the same French maid as Lady Lancing, just a French maid.

By "her own husband did not know her", Lady Bracknell is referring to the makeover and the difference it made in Lady Lancing's appearance, saying that you almost couldn't recognize her as the same person. Jack's retort could mean a few different things - he could be saying that Lady Lancing was cut from society, or that her personality was lost in the transformation of her appearance, or even that Lancing took up with the French maid instead of her husband! Whatever the intended meaning, he's undercutting Lady Bracknell's enthusiasm for "bettering" Cecily, which is why she glares at him before the next line.

  • There is also the potential double meaning joke from the sense of knowing in the "biblical" sense (have sex with, as in "Adam knew Eve...") LB: "in three months she was unrecognisable"/ Jack: "And in six months she couldn't find a single sexual partner" (implying that she had had many) I'm not enough of a Wildean scholar to know if this is intended.
    – James K
    Mar 4, 2021 at 18:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.