"The Importance of being Earnest is a sharp satire on the English upper classes, rather than merely a playful comedy, as Wilde suggested." To what...

analytical Essay
1202 words
1202 words

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. The The Importance of Being Earnest can be seen as comedic because Wilde uses the subversion of gender roles to give an indication that the play is merely superficial. Lady Bracknell is an amusing character because she has so much control over the other characters: “you’re uncle would have to dine upstairs. Fortunately he is accustomed to that.” This female dominance allows for a more comic edge as it would have been suprising, but entertaining to a Victorian audience to see a women carrying so much power over her husband. Perhaps Wilde was not writing in this way to portray his negative view on society but rather to exaggerate the comedic nature of the play by reversing our expectations. Gwendolen’s disobiedience of Lady Bracknell only serves to reinforce this, as these two powerful women contrast greatly to the comparible weakness of the men; Algernon and Jack: “Well…may I propose to you now?” and Gwendolen’s forceful reply “I think it would be an admirable oppurtunity”. This removes any impression of seriousness and ridicules the situation by completely subverting our expectations therefore spoiling the integrity of any comment on society if there is in fact any. The physical n... ... middle of paper ... ...“Jack. It isn’t Ernest; it’s Jack”. This only serves to add more irony as it reveals that the main object of desire in the play is in fact a lie. We therefore see Wilde’s contempt for hypocritical morality coming out in a sharp satire of the deep flaws in the foundations of the upper class. In conclusion, we can see that despite heavy emphasis on the comedy of the play through the use of classic comedic devices, that have enchanted modern and Victorian audiences through the stage. There is a somewhat serious underlying message delivered in the way that Wilde writes the play. We are being suggested throughout, that the Victorian high classes are dysfunctional due to the high expectations and vanity of the class. Therefore I can only see that this play is a harsh comment on the Victorian society in which it is set even though it is delivered in a highly comical shell.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how wilde's writing is funny because it allows a victorian audience to laugh at their own behaviour.
  • Analyzes how wilde creates playfulness in the importance of being earnest by following the classic structure of comedy moving from disorder to harmony at the end.
  • Analyzes how wilde mocks the victorian fixation on material worth and how this can affect the pursuit of love.
  • Analyzes how wilde's play is a sharp satire as he mocks social obligations, suggesting that people had to escape the unrealistic pressure society placed upon them.
  • Analyzes how wilde uses the title, the importance of being earnest, to create irony and satire as the characters despite striving to, act without any morality.
  • Concludes that wilde's play is a harsh comment on the victorian society in which it is set, despite the use of classic comedic devices.
  • Analyzes how wilde's the importance of being earnest uses comedy and farce to display a light hearted approach to the hugely powerful upper class of victorian society.
Get Access