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Everything which ought to be of importance becomes merely trivial. Discuss "The Importance of Being Earnest" as a comedy of importance and triviality.

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´╗┐Everything which ought to be of importance becomes merely trivial?. Discuss the importance of being earnest as a comedy of importance and triviality. Oscar Wilde subverts Victorian values to mock and imply triviality of Victorian society in his play ?The Importance of Being Earnest?. Wilde forces the audience to confront their priorities and rethink the importance of life while also scrutinising the ignorance of materialistic fascination of the characters in upper class society through trivialisation of the importance of life. Lady Bracknell?s character is arguably the main source of triviality in the play despite that fact she herself is not a trivial person. Wilde satirizes the ideas of marriage and personal fortune together contemplating how society views marriage as financial business hence Algernon?s remarks ?business or pleasure? to introduce the argument of marriage in the play. ?An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise pleasant or unpleasant; it?s hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself?. This displays the inversion Wilde uses to illustrate the idea marriage isn?t primarily about happiness or love but rather the ?pleasant state? as Lane utters to Algernon and Jack in Victorian society also attempting to say the experience of marriage is judged on how many times you?ve been married rather than the longevity of the marriage. ...read more.


The word Earnest which pivots around the play is ironic as it inspires 'absolute confidence', 'honesty' and 'responsibility' which all the characters lack impeccably. Wilde?s deconstruction of Victorian society through inversion of expectations ultimately leads to several concepts within the play and society itself being trivialised. ?It?s the first time in my life that I have been reduced to such a painful position? the language indicates how arrogant upper class people only expect the lower orders to tell the truth. This implies the idea money can buy deception and double identities successfully. Imagery also portrays how language is used express the hidden sexual desires of characters throughout the play through crafty innuendo ?ripeness can be depended on?. Wilde clarifies his play as ?Its philosophy is that we should treat all the trivial things seriously and the serious things in life with sincere and studied triviality? to demonstrate the idea of life within society is a game of indulging in of lies. Wilde challenges the continuous lie upper class society appears to be living in of having the right moral picture e.g. respect and responsibility while also appearing to conforming to social order despite the means of obtaining it by exposing their hidden desires. However Wilde?s play isn?t entirely trivialised as inversion intended for humour indirectly leads to importance in the play to implicate how certain necessities such as food are disregarded unless ?fashionable?. ...read more.


This further is highlighted when the pair forgive Algernon and Jack for their deceptive lies without any apologies as telling the truth is considered as a ?painful enough position?. Although the female character may not necessary agree with values of Victorian society about money, marriage and deception their forced hold opinions which enable them to have a respectable position in the social order due to its ridiculous ideals. Bracknell?s response to Jack?s accusations of Algernon ?he is an Oxonian ?shows how Wilde challenges the educated order due to limited access of education to only certain sectors of Victorian society highlighting key qualities of life such as privacy, gentlemanliness and moral character aren?t gained through education or social class but through other means. Wilde controversial reputation within society at the time for various scandals perhaps highlights why his play bombards the upper class values through satirical wit to expose them like his been exposed himself to the public through embarrassing satirical wit of trivialised values. Wilde challenges Victorian values while trivialising serious issues through humour ?to be comic the ending must forcefully call into question the issues of happiness and forever after? Christopher Fry symbolises Wilde?s satirization of Victorian values through comic epigrams to indicate irony of the audience ultimately laughing at themselves to connect the triviality of the play while also exploring serious issues consequently. Word Count (excluding direct quotations from the play) = 650 words ...read more.

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