The Importance Of Being Earnest By Oscar Wilde

1024 Words5 Pages
In the late nineteenth century many European, and especially British, authors, play writes and poets wrote about the inadequacies of the upper class. Often times the author will not blatantly express his feelings, but rather he will hide them behind the plot or characters in his story. In Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde mocks the values of the upper class. By fully exaggerating the flaws of the upper class, Wilde succeeds in expressing his beliefs that men and women of the upper class are shallow, foolish, and have no respectable values.
Many traditionally accepted practices Wilde finds disgustingly unacceptable; therefore, he completely satirizes them to express how truly shallow those customs are. In that time, and even today, it was very common for the families of two engaged people to do background checks on the opposite family. Therefore, when Jack Worthing, under the fake identity of Ernest Worthing, proposes to Gwendolen, it does not seem strange that Lady Bracknell would want to know Jack’s background. The extreme expectations in which Lady Bracknell has for a man suitable for her daughter are unimaginably high. Jack tells her about his impressive lifestyle and his success and Lady Bracknell complains that he lives on the wrong side of the street. Then Jack tells her the sad story of how he was abandoned as a child and she tells him that he needs to find his parents if he wants to marry her daughter. With these ridiculous responses Wilde is trying to emphasize that the upper class believe that they are worthy of more than anyone else and are insensitive to the feelings of others. Later on, Lady Bracknell tells Algernon that he can not marry Cecily, Jack’s ward. This wealthy woman only decides to chan...

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...heir comments. Just after both of their proposals, they each comment that they would never marry anyone whose name was not Ernest. Aside from being totally ironic, this is also very shameful. The girls place the importance of their engagement a name, rather than love. It seems that the value system of the upper class is complete out of place.
As a comedy of manners, The Importance of Being Ernest mocks the mocks the behaviors of upper class Englishmen. Through a variety of literary devices, mainly satire, Wilde expresses his beliefs that upper class citizens are shallow, foolish, and have no respectable values. Throughout his play he uses an unnatural amount of symmetry to emphasize that all upper class citizens possess these qualities. With this play Wilde was hoping to enlighten people of social and societal flaws in order that they should be able to correct them.
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