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Published in 1899, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde is a satirical interpretation of Victorian society

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Introduction

Published in 1899, "The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde is a satirical interpretation of Victorian society. Brilliant, inventive and extremely hilarious "The Importance of Being Earnest" is Oscar Wilde's most well known and the writer's greatest achievements. Oscar Wilde expresses the features of Victorian people through each character in his play; therefore, the two leading female characters; Gwendolen and Cecily definitely play a vital role in the action of the play. The main conflict of the play revolves around the play's protagonist, Jack Worthing, a young man who leads a double life (Jack in the country and Ernest in town) and Algernon Moncrieff, who has a fictional friend named 'Bunbury' whom he uses to escape dull social obligations. Jack Worthing wants to marry Gwendolen Fairfax, who believes his real name is Ernest, but is refused to do so by lady Bracknell due to Jack's family background. In Act 2, Jack's friend, Algernon Moncrieff complicates the conflict by visiting Jack's country house under the disguise of Jack's fake brother "Ernest" who often gets into trouble and require Jack's assistance to escape them. ...read more.

Middle

She claims that her "ideal has always been to marry someone of the name Ernest". This is humorous as we know that at that moment she is very wrong. In Act 2, we see that although she is intelligent, she is also foolish at times. When she first meets Cecily she says, "Something tells me that we are going to be great friends. I already like you more than I can say. My first impressions on people are never wrong". Moments later, when she discovers that they are both engaged to 'Ernest' she says - "From the moment I met you, I distrusted you. I knew you were wrong and deceitful. My first impressions on people are invariably right". Luckily for Jack, she is a woman who forgives easily. After the small conflict with Cecily and when Jack told the truth about him, she forgives them immediately. Overall, Gwendolen, been raised in the city is polished and sophisticated. Cecily Cardew, Jack's ward and grand daughter of Thomas Cardew who adapted Jack as a baby. ...read more.

Conclusion

They both keep a diary which they carry around everywhere they go and would show as proof of whatever they say. They even speak in union which emphasizes their similarity - "Your Christian names are still an insuperable barrier. That is all." The fighting scene in Act 2 shows how both of them would do their utmost to achieve what they want. Cecily although younger, less fashionable and less sophisticated than Gwendolen takes advantage of Gwendolen's obsession with fashion and uses it as a weapon to insult her during the small clash between them. For example, Gwendolen says - "I had no idea there were any flowers in the country" and Cecily says - "Oh! Flowers are common here, Miss Fairfax, as people are in London". Cecily is quick-witted and determined. Cecily is described as "a sweet, simple, innocent girl." Gwendolen is depicted as "a brilliant, clever, thoroughly experienced lady" from Jack and Algernon respectively. Despite these contrasts the girls seem to possess more similarities. Each appear shallow, and each loves Ernest because of their name. Gwendolen and Cecily are hopelessly in love with their counterparts and therefore provide the main source of conflict in this romantic comedy. ...read more.

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