Theme Of Comedy In The Importance Of Being Earnest

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Despite the comedy in the ways in which women in the play are presented, Oscar Wilde forces even a modern audience to attend deeply to serious matters. To what extent is this the case in “The Importance of Being Earnest”?

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde is a comedy of manners in which the vast majority of the humor derives from Wilde’s portrayal of the female characters. The play is not meant to be serious, or to carry any particular moral message, as Wilde himself acknowledges in the plays subtitle that it is merely a "trivial comedy for serious people". This of course leads to the assumption that there is no depth to the play, which is untrue. In fact, while Wilde does not expertly criticizes his audience as well as his contemporaries in his play and simply uses the comedy to do so.
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He does this by having Lady Bracknell remark that she often banished her 'ill ' husband upstairs to eat alone, a practice that he is "fortunately accustomed to" suggesting that like Gilman’s protagonist, Lord Bracknell was being locked up, and that in the relationship, the woman was clearly dominant. It should be noted however, that the Victorian audience would not have been quite so amused by the masculinity of Wildes female characters, and their complete authority over the males, if not for the comedic way it was presented. It can then be assumed that perhaps Wilde has purposefully presented the females in such a 'demeaning ' way to avert the attention of his peers from the sharp criticism he is making of them and their treatment of women. Modern audiences are more aware of Wilde’s criticism, as they can appreciate that in retrospect, the Victorian treatment of women was wrong, and that change was not inevitable, but
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