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' The Importance of Being Earnest' is a comedy of manors written by Oscar Wilde. He makes use of epigrammatic talk in the play to create humour.

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"Brilliant epigrammatic talk" ' The Importance of Being Earnest' is a comedy of manors written by Oscar Wilde. He makes use of epigrammatic talk in the play to create humour. Initially in the conversation between Algernon and Lane that opens the play. Lane is shown to be a witty character in this scene as he almost undermines a lot of Algernon's comments with disagreements. The wit is introduced in the fact that Lane undermines Algernon in such a way that Algernon himself does not realise. Algernon says, "Good heavens! Is marriage so demoralizing as that?" and Lane replies, "I believe it is a very pleasant state, sir." Lane's use of the noun 'sir' makes Algernon believe he is being polite, however we know that Lane is undermining Algernon's apparent views on marriage. Study the linguistic analysis of turn-taking in this scene we can see that Algernon seems to control the conversation but Lane's statements are very short and blunt. ...read more.


Wilde has chosen to do this to make the argument sound strangely civil. Wilde does this purposefully to exaggerate his own view on how the upper class are obsessed with keeping up appearances at all times, even in a full blown argument Cecily and Gwendolen remain collected and don't appear to loose their tempers. Furthermore a lot of the epigrammatic talk in this same scene is also verbal irony. Wilde would have intended almost the whole of this scene to be read with a sarcastic tone of voice. As I mentioned earlier Wilde's point is that the upper class are obsessed with how they appear to others so in keeping with the polite turn-taking of the conversation the girls must appear polite in what they say. Almost all of the remarks though are meant as verbal irony to undermine each other. One example is when Gwendolen remarks on how well kept the garden is and Cecily says, "So glad you like it miss Fairfax." ...read more.


Much like Cecily and Gwendolen's conversation Jack and Algy seem to compete with words in this scene to prove they are sharper than each other. Linguistically unlike the conversation between Cecily and Gwendolen, however, sentence structure is very crucial to create humour. One example is when Jack is talking about love and marriage, Algernon quickly replies, "Divorces are made in Heaven." Rather than padding this sentence out to explain exactly what Algy meant Wilde chooses a short sentence structure. Wilde has done this to make sure that the joke flows. Similar to the punch line of a joke the characters' comebacks must be quickly delivered so that the joke does not drag on and loose the humour. In this way epigrammatic talk is delivered quickly to create humour throughout the play. In conclusion, therefore, I agree with this summing up of the play. Wilde uses quick comebacks, verbal irony, short sentences and ambiguity in a brilliantly witty way throughout the play. This is why I believe the play uses "Brilliant epigrammatic talk". Jenny Patten Draft #2 ...read more.

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