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Humorous in The Importance of Being Earnest

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Y10 English Thao Nguyen Ms. Valdez March 2009 How does Oscar Wilde make 'The Importance of Being Earnest' humorous for the audience? Many play writers uses figurative language to make their story worthwhile watching or reading. They use this type of technique because it makes the audience alert and interested in the play. It also helps them to understand the characters' personality and traits better. The Importance of Being Earnest is one of Oscar Wilde's famous plays because it is a comedy of manners and farce. Wilde focuses on the higher class and satirises the life of the English aristocracy. He cleverly makes fun of aspects of the upper class society, and makes the comedy funny and special. In the play, Oscar Wilde's greatest device is language itself. It helps the audiences/readers to understand more about the Victorian society, in order to get a laugh out of them. The first technique that appears in the play is puns - a play on words. The first pun we notice is the title of the play - The Importance of Being Earnest. This is a very clever play on word - "earnest". On one hand, it functions as a name. On the other hand, it is an adjective and means, to be sincere, determined and serious. ...read more.


He wants the audiences to understand more about Victorian women like Lady Bracknell or Lady Harbury. She seems to have been trapped in a loveless marriage, the kind Lady Bracknell proposes to arrange for Gwendolen. Now that Lady Harbury's husband is dead, she is finally free to become who ever she wants and do what she pleases. She feels younger, more attractive and changes her hair colour. While the joke requires that we associate aging and grief, Wilde turns that around associating widowhood, instead, with good hair and joy. This phrase could also be an indication of the new wealth and independence Lady Harbury gained in inheriting her husband's money. Language is an importance thing in the play. Yet, the plot also makes the audiences laugh. The situation that the characters get them into and how things get in order again at the end is hilarious. In the first act, after the proposal between Jack and Gwendolen, Jack realized that Gwendolen loves his 'name' - Ernest so much, that she thinks, "It is a divine name. It has a music of its own. It produces vibrations". It is even more humorous that she doesn't like the name Jack that "it does not thrill, and produces absolutely no vibration", which makes Jack very worried. ...read more.


Moreover, everybody was very surprise that Ernest appeared as soon as Jack talks about his 'brother'. Near the end of the play, everybody thought that Miss Prism was Jack's mother. Behaviour and actions of the characters, mostly Algernon, are also very funny. The audience laughs because of how Algernon eats the cucumber sandwiches, which were made for Lady Bracknell. In addition, when she asked about the sandwiches, he easily got away with it, by blaming everything on Lane. When Gwendolen and Cecily found out about Jack's and Algy's real name, Jack was very worried, but Algernon decides to eat muffins. He thinks that eating is the only thing that consoles him. Indeed, when he's in great trouble, as anyone who knows him intimately will tell him, and he would refuse everything except food and drink... Every page, every line of dialogue, every character, each symbol and every stage direction in The Importance of Being Earnest show elements of satire. Oscar Wilde seems portrays Victorian society as hypocritical, snobbish and narrow. People are judged by their wealth and the social position of their families. It pokes fun at the aristocracy, the literary world, marriage, English manners and customs, women, men, love, religion and all sorts of other staples in modern society in a funny way. This is why it gets a laugh from the audience. For me, it was a very enjoyable play to read. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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