The Importance of Being Earnest, uses comedy and farce to display a light hearted approach to the hugely powerful upper class of Victorian society and add a playful edge to their actions. Although it could also be seen as a comedic shell for the true nature of Wilde’s comment upon the society in which it is set, exposing the flaws and inconsistencies that the upper class was built upon. It will be necessary to consider whether Wilde is purposely commenting on the dysfunction of the society in which he lived, or if it does in fact only serve as a comedy.
Being an only child, raised by a single mum, has allowed me to understand the person I wanted to be. From a young age my mother has instilled in me certain characteristics, qualities and the importance of being a true gentleman. As a young male living in the 21st century trying to behave in a gentlemanly manner I was dared by my mates to ask a girl out. Instant rejection followed; her response “Sorry, you are just, how should I put this not ideal.” Later that night as I buried my face into my pillow, it hit me. How am I not ideal? Heck what does she mean by ideal? Is it possible her view of me was influenced? I needed to find out if the feminine view of males has been clouded by media and classical literature. It would make an interesting story, so I started with Oscar Wilde 's famous play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ (1895).
Lane, for example, the lowly butler of Algernon, is used to give an unfamiliar perspective to the social class problem: the neglected lower class is finally given a voice (Wilde 7). Reality in this period was that the lower class virtually never got to state their opinions or defend themselves, so Wilde used the character of Lane for people to visualize their treatment of the lower classes and be held accountable for their distasteful actions against them (Victorian). Furthermore, Lady Bracknell represents yet another perspective: the posh, frivolous lifestyle of the upper class and how backwards their thinking was. At one point in the play, Jack and Gwendolen are discussing their plans of marriage to Lady Bracknell. After interrogating Jack about his familial ties and his past life, she disapproves of their engagement (Wilde 69). Her reasoning was clear: she did not want Gwendolen to have even the slightest chance of marrying into a poor family, even if that was what made her happiest. Bracknell's eternal craving for more wealth and reverence is exactly what Wilde wanted readers to frown upon and take out of their own
Intrinsic to the construction of an identity is the external presentation or performance of selfhood. Therefore, performance and selfhood are implicitly connected. However, the extent to which external performance is employed and its impact on the internal sense of selfhood has been presented both positively and negatively. Oscar Wilde represents identity as performative in his play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ (1895), and suggests society should embrace the artifice of performative identity. In contrast, Mark Ravenhill, whose play ‘Handbag’ (1998) is a response to Wilde’s, also regards crucial aspects of identity as performative but criticises society for using it as a vehicle for consumerism.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” is a comedic play by Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde. It was first performed on 14 February 1895 at St. James's Theatre in London (Woodring). “The characters in this play are Mr. Worthing (Ernest in town, Jack in the country), his ward Cecily Caldew, his fiancée Gwendolen Fairfax - daughter of Lady Bracknell, and his friend Algernon Moncrieff - nephew of Lady Bracknell; the plot is that Algernon, as her guardian's fictitious younger brother Ernest, becomes engaged to Cecily, so both girls are engaged to 'Ernest' but neither to Ernest. (Stone).” The title “The importance of being Earnest” is a clever play on words because suggests a connection between the name “Earnest” and the action of being earnest, but; in the play, the characters that uses the persona of Earnest are not earnest at all (Schmidt). Oscar Wilde lived during the nineteenth century, also known as the Victoria era. During this time, people placed emphasis on self-image and had high moral values. One could say that his play, “the importance of being earnest”, is a play about social rank and moral standards. The moral of the play is that “honesty is the rule of the day” (Schmidt). Although the lesson is an apparent one that supports Victorian values, Wilde uses a creative way to create an engaging story that displays and slightly mocks Victorian social norms.
Oscar Wilde began to write An Ideal Husband in the summer of 1893, he completed it later that winter. At the time of when it was written, he was familiarised to success, and in writing this play he wanted to guarantee himself to stay in the public eye. An ideal husband is one of the most serious social comedies that Oscar Wilde published, it contains bold political tinges, ironically and pessimistically looking at the current political background. The central focus of the play is the corruption of great wealth, which is where the public are usually uninformed. The play is about London society throughout the mid 80s, it condemns the value of Victorian society – it can also be perceived as a social satire.
According to two female characters in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Ernest is a name that is typically desirable for a husband and represents high social status and wealth. Earnest, on the contrary, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, means to be “serious, sincere”, or, in other words, honest (“Earnest”). Within the irony of the title of Wilde’s play itself, the hypocrisy of the high social class of the Victorian era is revealed. Wilde himself said of the play in one of his letters to Lord Alfred Douglas from Worthing, “The real charm of the play, if it is to have a charm, must be in the dialogue. The plot is slight…but…adequate” (Ericksen, 145).
The Life of Oscar Wilde
The year is 1884 and many things have taken place in the life of our literary giant, Oscar Wilde has been married years and his touring of the United States and other countries have shown his of success in his writing all over the literary world. Some of his most recent writtings are "The Picture of Dorian Gray"(1891), "A Woman of No Importance"(1894) and his most resent essay known as "The Decay of Lying" is Oscar’s story of his outrage about the current style of writing that is going into the art society. What has happened to the spectacularness of this art, it has come down to being as horrid as what is being published in the local newspapers.
Is it true that " The Decay of Lying" has fallen to its deepest shadow of shame? It seems that in the words of Oscar Wilde, that is the shameful truth.
It was during the Victorian Age that one of the most renowned pieces of literature was written. In fact, many religious, political, and social changes were taking place during this era. Oscar Wilde portrayed such changes in a satirical and comical tone via his play, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. The play revolves around two young male characters that create a false identity in an attempt to escape the daily restraints of Victorian Society. They are eventually caught in their lies and falsehood. Generally, the purpose of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is to poke fun at the strict Victorian morals and values. However, the play can also be viewed via the concept of gender roles and the way in which Wilde’s use of gender role reversal is particularly emphasized. The Victorian era presented an illusion of male supremacy over women. Via Wilde’s reversal of gender roles and having female characters take on the roles of men and vice versa, the flaws of the Victorian gender values are apparent. Wilde’s reversal of gender roles is evident via the two main female characters in the play;...
In Oscar Wilde’s drama The Importance of Being Earnest, he uses light-hearted tones and humor to poke fun at British high society while handling the serious theme of truth and the true identity of who is really “Earnest.” Truth as theme is most significantly portrayed through the women characters, Gwendolen and Cecily but to present serious themes comically, Wilde portrays women to be the weaker sex of society, despite the seriousness of the subject—the identity of the men they want to marry.