Oscar Wilde stated, in relation to his play The Importance of Being Earnest that “We should treat all the trivial things of life seriously, and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality.” This reflects the ideas behind the play and the way that Wilde presents his characters, and their actions throughout the course of the play. This philosophy influenced many important themes throughout the play, most notably the presentation of class, as well as Satire and Comic Pairings. Wilde’s presentation of the society he showcases in the play revolves largely around this philosophy of ‘Serious Triviality’, especially in the case of Lady Bracknell, the character that exemplifies Wilde’s philosophy of Serious Triviality in the Importance of Being Earnest.
The main idea behind Wilde’s philosophy is the misappropriation of importance by the upper classes in society, as exemplified in Jack’s conversation with Lady Bracknell in Act One of the play. In this scene Lady Bracknell states - having learnt that Jack smokes - ‘I’m glad to hear it. A man should always have an occupation’. This statement exemplifies Wilde’s views of the upper classes and their prioritizing of minor things such as smoking, over intellect and wealth. This exchange is the peak of Wilde’s satirisation of the upper classes and their actions towards the world around them, but it is a theme that continues throughout the play, and is an underlying tone in almost every conversation between characters throughout all three acts of the play. This is especially prominent in the character of Algernon, who throughout the play prioritizes the trivial over the serious in a...
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...This is an example of Wilde’s cynical opinion of the Upper classes, a theme that comes through in every aspect of the play, but most noticeably in the interactions that lady Bracknell has throughout the play, as she truly exemplifies what Wilde despises in the upper echelons of society.
In conclusion, Wilde’s philosophy of ‘serious triviality’ plays an important role in the development of the comedy in the play, and influences the character development choices that he makes for these upper class characters that play such an important role in the Importance of Being Earnest. Whilst there are a lot of characters in the play, each with their own unique personalities, Wilde’s basis for all of the characters is largely the same; they follow the template of his philosophy, but their characters are based around different interpretations of, and adherence to the philosophy.
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