However, the audience knows that Ganymede is Rosalind. Phebe is admiring who she thinks is a male, which creates dramatic irony. She acts irrationally through trying to prove that she is in love, and through disregarding Silvius, who is also a part of the conversation. This conversation, caused by dramatic irony, is humorous for the reader. Similarly, in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Cecily and Gwendolen argue about their engagement with Ernest.
Thomson Gale. 12, March 2003. <http://www.galegroup.com> Hughes, Langston. “The Harlem Renaissance.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed.
Such comedy emphasizes wit, whether true or false…” (Bacon). As a comedy of manners, the play accomplishes its goal of revealing the shallow mindset of the Victorian high society through satirical, yet critical, tone. In his book, Oscar Wilde, Erickson refers to the play as “Wilde’s comic masterpiece” (Ericksen, 145). When critiquing the play, the Times correctly noted a quality in the language of The Importance of Being Earnest that foiled every expectation: “Mr. Oscar Wilde’s peculiar vein of epigram does not accord too well with flippant action.
The characters in The Importance of Being Earnest assume false identities in order to achieve their goals but do not interfere with the others' lives. The double life led by Algernon, Jack, and Cecily (through her diary) is simply another means by which they liberate themselves from the repressive norms of society. They have the freedom to create themselves and use their double identities to give themselves the opportunity to show opposite sides of their characters. They mock every custom of the society and challenge its values. This creates not only the comic effect of the play but also makes the audience think of the serious things of life.
They are both childish men that end up with the most in the end even though they are the least deserving. Wilde’s main purpose for using irony is to uncover the absurdity of the Victorian Culture through his unusual situations, which give his play both a serious and silly vehemence. According to Webster’s Dictionary, irony is the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really think especially in order to be funny. Oscar Wilde uses irony in order to expose the behaviors, manners, and flaws of the middle or upper class. During Jack’s and Gwendolen’s conversation before the proposal, they discuss the possibility of Jack having a name other than Ernest.
While it is unfortunate that her thoughts should not be given a second thought, the audience is usually quick to judge Hermia’s father as an old, tradition-bound man intent on ruining his daughter’s happiness. In fact, it should be important to The unfortunate circumstances of the two lovers is one facet of the driving force of the play. It reveals an enormous amount about the nature of love, especially in someone’s younger years. Even though we as an audience can relate to and root for the two, and are satisfied at the end of the play with their happy union, it is important to call into question the actual intelligence of entering into a marriage, purely in the interests of starry-eyed, headstrong, idealistic love given the context of their situation. It seems improbable that they really know what they’re getting themselves into.