How Important is Being Earnest?

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Oscar Wilde is the author of the comedic play, The Importance of Being Earnest, which is a drama about two people who hold double lives trying to be the same person. While Wilde intended for his play to have people filling the theatre with laughter he conveys a deeper meaning. By looking closely at the characters in the play readers can see everyone is very selfish or egocentric. All the events that occur between the characters happen because they are only thinking about themselves. The lives of all the characters mingle together all due to this one character named Ernest who is first created by the character, Jack, for personal benefit. Ernest is spelled different from the word “earnest” which means serious in purpose or sincerity of feelings. Wilde uses this play on words to create a satire on the morals of people during his time period. The characters in the novel do not display earnestness but disrespect. The main characters will find out that being sincere and honest is better for them than lacking respect for others.

The first character readers meet is Algernon, a friend to Jack, who is preparing for his aunt, Lady Bracknell, to arrive. After a conversation with his manservant he says “Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility” (Wilde 6). Algernon believes people of less fortune have fewer morals. For example marriage is less important. Algernon displays hypocritical characteristics because he is going to try to base a marriage off of a fake identity. Another subtle hint to Algernon’s selfishness is when he eats all the cucumber sandwiches meant for his aunt. As he is sitting there talking to Jack he...

... middle of paper ... build relationships. They are building the relationships based on lies and deceit rather than being earnest which would build a stronger relationship.

At the end of the play all is well and the truth comes out. The characters have finally learned their lesson the being earnest is important. It is not the name that is important but their qualities as a person. The characters can now live happy, fulfilling, honest lives with their spouses. Wilde portrays how morals are important through a comedic satire.

Works Cited

Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2006. Print.

JACOBS, KATHERINE. "Shakespeare's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING 5.4.109-18." The Explicator 59.3 (2001): 115. Literature Resource Center. Web. 4 Apr. 2012.

Doniger, Wendy. “Self Impersonation in World Literature” Literature Resource Center. Web. 4 Apr. 2012
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