Saints vs Sinners

A Woman of No Importance - Oscar Wilde

The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.


Gerard: I want to go with Lord Illingworth, but I cannot abandon my mother.

Mrs. Arbuthnot: You are all mine, son.

Lord Illingworth: You can’t have him all for yourself, not anymore.


The only sin of Mrs. Arbuthnot catches up with her 20 years after she commits it. She has to give up her son to the one who destroyed her life by disgracing her. She has to let her only son embrace his father, whom Gerald thought was dead. Mrs. Arbuthnot has only one way to save her son and that is by telling him the truth no matter how hard it is.


“A Woman of no Importance” is an enjoyable read. I loved the way dichotomies are distorted. Saints are rejected while sinners are accepted with open arms. Disgraceful practices linger by and no one seems to pay attention to them. They are even encouraged. Dialogues contain what people think more than what they actually say, things that one is not supposed to say. Dialogues reveal what women would rather not tell and be, and men are portrayed as how they are loved because of their flaws and despised because of their intellect.


Mrs. Arbuthnot is a saint even though she is sinful. Her sin belongs to the past and even if it always there, as her son, she is a saint because “the only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” She tries to repent by dedicating her life to her son. She gives up everything for him, even her name. Her name caught my attention as being “are but not.” She becomes a nameless creature because of a wicked man, an“Ill personage” whose actions only bring misery. His worth is limited to his position and not to his virtues, as he has none. Lord Illingworth never changes. He tries to seduce and disgrace every woman whom he develops an interest but when he realizes that he has a son, something awakens in him. Regret. His only regret is that because of his actions, he cannot get to love and keep his son as his legitimate child. But even that regret fades quickly.