Oscar Wilde ridiculed the institution of marriage. Throughout the play, The Importance of Being Earnest, there is a pessimistic view on marriage. In many lines, Wilde made a mockery of the most sacred tradition; marriage. The hypocritical custom and traditions were also mocked. Marriage is the plot’s main core, where the two young men desire to marry two young women, who in return desire to marry men named Ernest. Wilde poked fun at the aristocrats by using marriage for mainly two reasons. One it is a traditionally sacred ceremony, and two, he can emphasize the importance of wealth and status among the upper class. Marriages, among the aristocrats, were viewed as a financial contract.
Men of the time were held to the standard of being active in society. They were expected to be active in politics and social activities outside of the home. Expectations for men were also for them to be respectful and proper, especially when women were present. The character, Jack Worthing, in The Importance of Being Earnest, is the representation of the perfect Victorian gentleman. For example, Jack says to Algernon in Act I, “...My dear fellow, the truth isn’t quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice, sweet, refined girl. What extraordinary ideas you have about the way to behave to a woman!” (Wilde 1.2.236). In this simple quote, Jack describes the high standards and expectations that Victorian gentlemen were held to. But not only men were held to high standards, women were expected to hold themselves in the most proper way as well. The point of a Victorian woman’s life was to marry and domestically support her family. Women had little rights and in fact, prior to the Married Women’s Property Acts of 1870, women were forced to give up all property that they held to their husbands upon marriage. (Appell 1). Within the play, Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen 's mother, is provided as a tool to explain the oppression put upon women of the time.
Every line, every character, and every stage direction in The Importance of Being Earnest is set on supporting Oscar Wilde’s want for social change. The Importance of Being Earnest was written during the late period of the Victorian era. During this period social classification was taken very seriously. It could affect working and living conditions, education, religion, and marriage. Wilde explores the issues of social class and turns it into a comedic play. He humorously criticizes Victorian manners and attacking the society of the luxurious life. The audience becomes self-aware as the characters reflect on themselves. Plays such as this become successful because of the backgrounds the writers come from and the experiences they have had. In The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde satirizes the Victorian society and the ironic differences between the lower and upper class.
“I’ve now realized for the first time in my life, the vital importance of being Earnest. (713.521-523) Jack’s final line demonstrates his understanding of the secret meaning behind “The Importance of Being Earnest”, by Oscar Wilde. That human beings have the capacity to be both good and evil. This is shown through the character of Jack, other character’s relation to Jack, and even in the theatrical elements of the show.
The Importance of Being Earnest, written by Oscar Wilde, is a novel about two friends who lead double lives. Throughout the novel, the reader sees both sides of John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff’s personalities. Both characters exhibit a serious upper class personality in one setting but also have a completely different personality that allows them to be more carefree and pleasure-seeking. Ultimately Worthing & Moncrieff’s double lives allow them to express different sides of themselves and in turn discover their true selves.
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...
Oscar Wilde’s use of Characterization is primarily shown through the character Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell is a very stubborn character who is a little overprotective of her daughter Gwendolen. Lady Bracknell’s character is significantly exposed when she is questioning Jack before he is allowed by her to engage Gwendolen, “I feel bound to tell you that you are not down on my list of eligible young men…however, I am quite ready to enter your name, should your answers be what a really af...
Wilde’s strategically uses each of the characters to represent the manner in which those, who were in the upper class, would behave. As the play begins we are instantly battered with the satirically condemning wit that is Oscar Wilde. Algernon requests his servant, Lane, to produce the cucumber sandwiches for the arrival of Lady Bracknell. Lane and Algernon have idle chatter and end up on the subject of marriage. After Lane exits the room and Jack insists, “Lane’s views on marriage seem somewhat lax. Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility”. This is Wilde’s analysis on the absurdity of the upper class and also gives us an improved view of the character Algernon. Algernon is a constituent of the affluent. He assumes less responsibility than his counterpart Jack,...
In Oscar Wilde’s play, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” is an early Victorian melodramatic play. This play is very honest and frank. It is a satire, comedy of errors, and an intellectual farce. There are two main characters, Algernon and Jack. Jack Worthing, is known by Jack when he is living at his own country estate, but when he goes into city, London; he creates a fictional character called ‘Earnest.’ Algernon has created a fictional character named ‘Bunbury.’ Algernon uses Bunbury to get him out of prior engagements. This helps him get out of the house and clear his head whenever he wants. Although their both the characters situations are different, both created an “alter-ego” to help them get away from their own lives and also to live another life. They are best friends; both have the same social background, class and taste. Between Jack and Algernon, Jack is more serious about his life; he creates a fictional character to help him keep his image of being humble and respectable intact but in truth is vain. On the other hand, Algernon is truthful about himself and he goes against the Victorian values. But society loves him anyway as he accepts that he is not formal or conservative, or proper and he is rough around the edges but he’s funny, witty and smart. Although Wilde creates two characters in Jack and Algernon who are similar in social class, age, tastes, etc., he also carefully creates subtle character differences between them that create conflict and humor in the play.
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.
...“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, with a prominent use of inversion, satire and epigrams; Oscar Wilde is able to create an eloquent blend of effective yet sometimes implicit social criticisms of late nineteenth century society and derive humour for both modern and Victorian audiences in doing so. Combined with carefully sculptured characters such as Lady Bracknell and with the use of puns and intelligent wordplay, the playwright elegantly comments on aspects of society such as marriage and traditional gender roles thus confirming Sir John Hankin’s interpretation that the play is ‘…only a joke, yet an amazingly brilliant one’[ ] and mope importantly establishing The Importance of Being Earnest as a sardonic masterpiece.
Oscar Wildes ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’’ is believed by many to be his most genius work and certainly has withstood the test of time. The play is set in London during the 1890’s in which time frame aristocracy and upper class held the majority of the countries wealth. Many of the comical aspects question the morals of the upper class in which he satirises throughout the play. One method of this, for instance is through one of the main protagonist, Algernon Moncrieff. Algernon is an upper class individual who is oblivious to the world around him in such an exaggerated manner that it makes his character comically adjusted for Wildes own views. Many aspects of the time period are made a mockery through puns and witty remarks from the main protagonists, most if not all are portrayed in a sense that makes them undoubtedly a laughing stock. Wildes methods are not discrete; nor are they obvious, many of the comical comments made are by none other than the protagonists themselves. This furthermore enforces the corrupted morals of the time periods prestigious upper class by showing their sheer inability to acknowledge hypocrisy. For example, in act one; Algernon states “ Lane's views on marriage seem somewhat lax. Really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility.” This is especially amusing as Algernon believes that the lower class have a duty to set an example when in reality the matter of fact was quite the contrary. Algernon states that he believes the lower class are lacking in morals, he being arguably one of the most morally distorted characters Wilde created makes the double standards more prominent.
There is a symbol within the obsession of food in The Importance of Earnest. Oscar Wilde is able to communicate the theme of the pursuit of pleasure within the excessive want for food. Algernon constantly eats and eats and even comes out to declare he is consoled by food and when he is in trouble or unhappy food is what lifts his mood. This motion exposes how humans seek pleasure through materialistic things and can be quite selfish in doing so. Algernon exposes how selfish humans can be when both Cecily and Gwendolyn find out the real identities of Algy and Jack, and Jack and Algernon distance themselves from the girls and go to eating. Algernon devours the muffins without any regards to the fact that Jack may have also wanted some. The whole
In the passage from The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde reveals the personality of two protagonists: Jack Worthing, an honest legal judge from Hertfordshire , and Algernon, a witty gentleman belonging to Victorian society. The diction of the passage shows that Jack and Algernon are best friends; Algernon calls Jack as his “old boy”, “my dear boy” (Wilde 90). They also have some similar personalities: humorous, ironic and satiric. The passage starts with the scene Algernon enters cheerily (Wilde 90); he asks Jack about Jack’s proposal to Gwendolen. Jack replies with a sincere exclamation about Gwendolen, and also her mother, Lady Bracknell. He claims that Lady Bracknell is “perfectly unbearable” (Wilde 90); furthermore, Jack compares