Essay On The Importance Of Being Earnest

1004 Words5 Pages
Sommer Wood
Mocking Marriage
“The Importance of Being Earnest” By Oscar Wilde, is a satirical play that has captured the attention of audiences for over a hundred years. Much of this plays popularity has stemmed from Wilde’s ability to direct viewers attention to the flaws of Victorian society, while maintaining a lighthearted and comical tone throughout. Although the play maintains a humorous nature, Wilde manages to touch on many issues surrounding the moral and social values held by many people in the Victorian era. In this time, expectations surrounding romance and marriage were fairly restricting, making them both controversial and inticing topics for Wilde to critique. Here we will analyze the mentality and actions of leading characters;
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This overly specific and closeminded way of choosing a husband provides insight into the troublesome priorities surrounding marriage at this time. For example, when asked about the name Jack, Gwendolen states, “Jack…? No, there is very little music in the name Jack, if any at all, indeed. It does not thrill. It produces absolutely no vibrations… I have known several Jacks, and they all, without exception, were more than usually plain… The only really safe name is Earnest” (895 Wilde) Although Gwendolen’s comment is humorous, it is meant to emphasize her superficial mentality on what will make a good husband. This shortsighted way of thinking is also shared by Cecily through her conversation with Algernon. “You must not laugh at me, darling, but it had always been a girlish dream of mine to love someone whose name is Earnest. There is something in that name that seems to inspire absolute confidence. I pity any poor married woman whose husband is not called Earnest” (Wilde 912) Although the need for a husband named Earnest is very specific to the play, these quotes are meant to reflect the general issue of the superficial ideals surrounding marriage in this…show more content…
I need hardly say I would do anything in the world to ensure Gwendolen’s happiness.
LADY BRACKNELL: I would strongly advise you, Mr. Worthing, to try and acquire some relations as soon as possible, and to make a definite effort to produce at any rate one parent, of either sex, before the season is quite over.
JACK: Well, I don’t see how I could possibly manage to do that. I can produce the handbag at any moment, it is in my dressing room at home. I really think that should satisfy you, Lady Bracknell.
LADY BRACKNELL: Me, sir! What has it to do with me? You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter—a girl brought up with the utmost care—to marry into a cloak room, and form an alliance with a parcel? Good morning, Mr. Worthing! This conversation not only relays the love Jack feels for Gwendolen, but also makes it very clear that by no stretch of the imagination does Lady Bracknell believe Jack is anywhere close to being a suitable husband for Gwendolen, due to his mysterious background. This fixation on ones ancestry and upbringing plays a large role in determining an individuals status within the Victorian society, a controversial topic discussed by many writers of this
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