At first glance, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and Lawrence Weschler’s Boggs: A Comedy of Values treat the issue of art’s function in converse ways. Wilde, the quintessential Aesthete, asserts that art should exist for the sake of beauty alone. Boggs, on the other hand, contends that art should serve a practical function: it should wake individuals from their sleepwalking by highlighting essential, overlooked aspects of society. Fascinatingly, neither Wilde nor Boggs firmly adheres to his ostensible artistic purpose. Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest, although it showcases certain Aesthetic elements, incisively critiques Victorian society. The play is not a functionless work of pure beauty. Conversely, Boggs’ project clearly serves an instructional function while it simultaneously revels in its own beauty. Moreover, Boggs himself is often uncertain of what his art represents and does. When placed side-by-side, The Importance of Being Earnest and Boggs queer the division between Aestheticism and Functionalism, suggesting that both schools are unattainable ideals. In doing so, the two texts elucidate a holistic conception of art that fuses aesthetic value to social critique. Aesthetic beauty coalesces with function.
Historically, Wilde was a staunch—even notorious—advocate of Aestheticism: a doctrine popular throughout Europe in the late nineteenth century which held that “art exists for the sake of its beauty alone, and that it need serve no political, didactic, or other purpose” (Britannica). Indeed, David Cooper in his Companion to Aesthetics argues that the doctrine “asserts not merely that a work of art should be judged only on ...
... middle of paper ...
... [pleasure, beauty]” (GP 799) were most valued in the fourteenth century, and as we have seen, they still are today. Art must be beautiful and purposefully inspire thought.
"Aestheticism." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 30 Nov. 2005 .
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Riverside Chaucer. Ed. Larry D. Benson. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton, 1987.
Cooper, David, ed. A Companion to Aesthetics. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995.
Foster, Richard. “Wilde as Parodist: A Second Look at The Importance of Being Earnest.” College English 18.1 (1956): 18-23.
“Functionalism.” American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. 2000.
Weschler, Lawrence. Boggs: A Comedy of Values. Chicago: Chicago UP, 1987.
Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays. Ed. Richard Allen Cave. New York: Penguin, 2000.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest Setting: Begins in a flat in London then proceeds to a manor house in the countryside in the late 1800's. Plot: Two men, John Jack Earnest Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, use the deception [a Bunbury] that both their names were Ernest, in order to secure marriage to the women they love, Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew. Then there is the ultimate unraveling of their lies, which still ends in their impending nuptials.Cast of Key CharactersJohn Jack Ernest Worthing"Bon-vivant" [Jack to Algernon 2] Algernon is asking Jack what brought him to town.... [tags: Importance Being Earnest Wilde Essays]
4849 words (13.9 pages)
- Satire in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy of manners, whereby Oscar Wilde uses satire to ridicule marriage, love and the mentality of the Victorian aristocratic society. It can also be referred to as a satiric comedy. What is a satire and what is Oscar Wilde trying to emphasize by employing it in his play. A satiric comedy ridicules political policies or attacks deviations from social order by making ridiculous, the violators of its standards of morals or manners.... [tags: The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde]
1998 words (5.7 pages)
- In The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde revealed that animalistic traits can tint a character’s intellectual attributes. All of the characters possess an overwhelming desire which seems to diminish their morality. Wilde uses Jack Worthing’s animalistic behaviors to reveal that his animal self is damaging his intellectual self. The play is presented to show that the characters retain an exaggerated pleasure with food, which shows their pleasures in inanimate objects. Every character in the play is drawn into lustful relationships, thus mutilating their psychological self.... [tags: the importance of being earnest, oscar wilde]
1261 words (3.6 pages)
- Timeless Message of Equality in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest satirizes Victorian society. The witty epigrams of his characters provide light comedy masking the underlying theme of criticism of the Victorian way of life. Wilde's effective use of humour diffuses the tense theme of his work. In a Victorian society that emphasized progress, it was precarious for artists like Oscar Wilde to express an imperfect interpretation of life in nineteenth-century England. Wilde's attack on the ethics of his era is an attempt to fulfill the author's prophecy that art has the power to dictate life, not merely imitate it (614-615). At... [tags: Importance Being Earnest Oscar Wilde Essays]
1958 words (5.6 pages)
- A satire is a piece of work that is designed to ridicule or tease a group or organization, generally for the purpose of being humorous. “The Importance of Being Earnest,” a play by Oscar Wilde, is a satire, ridiculing class, gender, and marriage. This essay will describe some points from each of these sections, as well as give a brief synopsis of the play these examples come from. The Importance of being Earnest includes three acts, with seven major characters. In act one, we start with a conversation between Jack (a notable bachelor) and Algernon (an in debt bachelor, with a laid back temperament), in which we learn both have made up 'friends,' who are often sick, as to escape from whereve... [tags: Satire, Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde, ]
700 words (2 pages)
- Oscar Wilde's, "The Importance of Being Earnest" revolves around the dichotomy of the true definition of honesty versus the victorian definition of honesty. It is apparent that Wilde's opinion is that true honesty is expressed through being genuine to one's self as opposed to putting on a front as is important in victorian ideals. In this work, Wilde uses humor to off-set the seriousness of the theme of the story. One who has studied this work can also clearly see that Wilde is using sarcasm to say things that would not have been accepted by society if they were said bluntly.... [tags: The Importance of Being Earnest]
537 words (1.5 pages)
- Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" In the closing lines of the first act of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," Algernon remarks, "I love scrapes. They are the only things that are never serious," to which Jack responds, "Oh, that's nonsense Algy. You never talk about anything but nonsense." Algernon caps off this exchange with a proclamation of the purpose of the whole work: "Nobody ever does" (1642). Wilde never allows anything in the work to conclude on a serious note.... [tags: Oscar Wilde Importance Earnest Essays]
3835 words (11 pages)
- Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde is a legendary author who has composed many great plays including The Green Carnation and A Woman of No Importance, however, The Importance of Being Earnest was undoubtedly the most famous of his works. First published in 1930, yet acknowledged since the late 1800s, The Importance of Being Earnest helped to revive the theater tradition of Congreve and Sheridan. The story is a comedic view of romance and the emphasis we place on seemingly trivial articles, such as a name.... [tags: Oscar Wilde Earnest Essays]
3082 words (8.8 pages)
- Wilde's "Importance of Being Earnest" and Weschler's "Boggs" At first glance, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and Lawrence Weschler’s Boggs: A Comedy of Values treat the issue of art’s function in converse ways. Wilde, the quintessential Aesthete, asserts that art should exist for the sake of beauty alone. Boggs, on the other hand, contends that art should serve a practical function: it should wake individuals from their sleepwalking by highlighting essential, overlooked aspects of society.... [tags: Wilde Weschler Boggs Being Earnest Essays]
2896 words (8.3 pages)
- In “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde, humor functions through the use of Characterization and the social satire of the Victorian period. Characterization is the method an author uses to reveal or describe characters and their various personalities. Satire is a literary tone used to ridicule or make fun of human vice or weakness, often with the intent of correcting, or changing, the subject of the satirical attack. These two comical devices are part of the nature of humor, which is the concept that a person’s flaws are funny.... [tags: essays research papers]
591 words (1.7 pages)