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How does Wilde use linguistic, literary and structural devices to create effective social comedy?

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How does Wilde use linguistic, literary and structural devices to create effective social comedy? 'The Importance of being Earnest' is a comical play. The characters and the plot are both comical, but the play may be best described as a social comedy, a comedy of manors. Wilde uses many comic devices to make the play funny but I think the main focus is on using irony in this particular play. One type of irony Wilde uses is dramatic irony. Wilde withholds information from certain characters whilst the audience are fully aware of what is really going on. It is funny because of the ironic situation and the ways the characters react. One example of this is the first conversation between Jack and Gwendolen. ...read more.


The play has many examples of verbal irony or sarcasm. Jack says, "I am in love with Gwendolen. I have come up to town expressly to propose to her." Algernon replies sarcastically, "I thought you had come up for pleasure?" This is amusing for the audience but Jack fails to see the funny side. Another example is when Jack says, "I haven't asked you to dine with me anywhere tonight." Algernon replies, knowing that Jack had no intention of inviting him but using verbal irony, "I know. You are absurdly careless about sending out invitations. It is very foolish of you. Nothing annoys people so much as not receiving invitations." These are just two examples of the many times Wilde uses verbal irony to create humour in this play. ...read more.


Chausable Miss Prism). For example the boys are willing to be christened under the name of Ernest to grant the girls wishes. An example of Lady Bracknell's orders are when she orders Jack to, "Rise, sir, from this semi-recumbent position. It is most indecorous." Jack immediately tries to do so though he is held back by Gwendolen. In this way, throughout the play, the men seem to be under the power of the women. At the time Wilde wrote this play this would have been a very strange idea for an audience as men would have been the powerful ones in society and women would have obeyed their husbands. A 1895 audience would, therefore, have found this whole new concept rather absurd and probably quite comical so Wilde has successfully created comedy, changing the roles of women and men in normal society, in the play. Wilde uses mockable characters to 'make fun' of the aristocracy and create humour in the play. ...read more.

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