The satire of 19th century society is prominent in characters like Lady Bracknell, evident in her commentary on Algernon, “He has nothing, but looks everything. What more can one desire?” This contrasted the expectations of 19th century standards but affirmed Wilde’s privileging of artificiality over truth. Furthermore, the play creates a sense of the unstable and subsequently liberating nature of performative identity, most evidently in it denouement. Throughout the play Jack has been using the alter-ego of Ernest in the city, thus creating a performed, fictionalised identity. This practice of “Bunburying”, as Algernon calls it, overturns 19th century standards of identity as being unchanging and based on truth. Wilde utilises the conventions of theatre to satirise these standards, especially through the use of speech prefixes, which reveal who is speaking to the performers of a play, but not to the audience. In ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ there is no character actually called Ernest. Instead, when Lane introduces “Mr Ernest Worthing” an actor playing Jack comes on stage and takes up the title. This falsehood is
The plot of “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde, performed by Shem Productions is a Victorian melodrama where Jack Worthing, the protagonist, lives by a phantom name ‘Ernest’ in London, and by his original name in the country. This further leads to a series of misunderstandings among his friends, family and girlfriend.
When deciding what element a play should contain, one must look at a large variety of options. These options can alter how the audience depicts the play and change their overall opinions. Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” is a play set around 1895 where the protagonist, Jack Worthing, takes on two identities in order to avoid social obligations. This play’s era affects how the characters are dressed and how their households appear.
Jack invents his brother “Ernest” so that he can excuse himself from the country, where he serves as Cecily’s guardian. Under such pretense he can escape to town, where he can court Gwendolen and entertain himself with extravagant dinners. Similarly, Algernon invents his invalid friend “Bunbury,” so that he has an excuse to escape from the city when he does not care to dine with his relations. Fact and fiction collide when Algernon arrives at Jack’s country estate, pretending to the elusive “Ernest”. His arrival upsets Jack’s plan to kill off his fictional brother and nearly derails Jack’s real engagement to Gwendolen. That Algernon coins the terms “Bunburying” and “Bunburyist” after his imaginary invalid to describe such impersonations highlights
“The Importance of Being Earnest” is a comedic play by Oscar Wilde about two men named Jack Worthing and Algernon, Jack’s best friend, who both lead a double life so they can escape from the responsibilities of their own life and be true to their own impulses. Having a double life help them to avoid criticism from society about their personality and who they are because during the time period that this story was written the “Victorian Era,” everything was defined to be perfect in Britain especially for the upper class where Jack and Algernon belongs and are supposedly to comported themselves in overly sincere, polite ways and educated who always follows their morals and religions. However, Oscar Wilde develops this comedy
The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedic play, bringing humor to readers through sarcastic and witty words, ironic situations, and foolish ideals. Jack, best friend of Algernon, guardian to Cecily, and respected man of Hertfordshire, is surrounded by humorous situations and people. Jack himself creates a comical situation through his scapegoat, Ernest, who has a lady in love with him. Oscar Wilde fabricated the classic and very humorous play, The Importance of Being Earnest, through cucumber sandwiches and an engagement, a man with a double life, and a naive girl who has fallen in love with an imaginary man.
Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest reveals the difference between the behaviors of the upper class and lower class. Wilde presents his readers a discussion on the ideologies that separated the lower and upper classes. The lower class is less ostentatious and is more respectful. Wilde throughout the play continues to mock the pride and dissimulation of the aristocracy.
On May 25th I went to see The Importance of Being Earnest performed at the Artist Repertory Theater in Downtown Portland. The Importance of Being Earnest written by Oscar Wilde and directed by Michael Mendelson and had a cast of 8 actors, Sarah Lucht, Ayanna Berkshire, Jamie M. Rea, Linda Alper, Kailey Rhodes, Vana O’Brien, Crystal Ann Muñoz, and JoAnn Johnson. In this analysis, many things will be discussed, such as the costume choice, the set design, and the performance of two characters Lady Bracknell and Reverend Chasuble.
The Importance of Being Earnest was one of Wilde’s Victorian melodramas. There are plenty elements of satire, intellectual travesty, a comic take on Victorian manners and an appealing superficial-ness that makes it a light comedy. Behind this charade of humor though lie deeper, more serious undertones. The play is a take at the extreme hypocrisy and cloying moralism’s that were distinct marks of the Victorian era.
Archer once said, “What can a poor critic do with a play which raises no principle, whether of art or morals, creates its own canons and conventions, and is nothing but an absolutely willful expression of an irrepressibly witty personality?” These words by archer help to reveal what Wilde intended to show in this play. Wilde in response to his play said, "we should treat all the trivial things of life seriously, and all the serious and studied things of life with sincere and studied triviality (2).” Despite the depiction of humor, the play is one of the best plays of the 19th century compared to other British plays. The characters of this play live by the words of Wilde, they treat all serious matters as jokes, and vise versa. This paper through the analysis of themes such as identity, the importance of marriage and social class, will reveal the greed as well as hypocrisy that hide under the Victorian politeness which invites audiences and readers to consider moral principles. All the aristocrats of the play have a crucial role in using deceit to make this possible.