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The Importance of Being Earnest-" A trivial comedy for serious people".

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Introduction

The Importance of Being Earnest-" A trivial comedy for serious people" What aspects of late Victorian Society does Oscar Wilde seek to mock and trivialise? Oscar Wilde accepts Victorian values however he seeks to mock and trivialise the late Victorian society in his play- The Importance of Being Earnest. He described the play as exquisitely trivial, and therefore gave it the subtitle- "A trivial comedy for serious people". His intentions were to make people think more deeply and make them more aware of the serious things in life, which should be treated with sincerity, and the trivial things with seriousness. He succeeds in mocking Victorian life by trivialising certain parodies such as marriage, society, and aristocracy, and much more, by the use of witty paradoxes and epigrams. Wilde achieves to produce a pun out of the title, due to the mistaken identity of a character in the play Jack Worthing, and the 'earnest' behaviour of Victorian characters. The play pivots around the word 'earnest', because both women want to marry someone of the name 'Ernest', because it inspires 'absolute confidence', 'honesty' and 'responsibility'. Gwendolen: '...there is very little music in the name Jack. The only safe name is Ernest'. ...read more.

Middle

This is because Wilde thought strongly in having a solid relationship. In Victorian society, aristocracy was extremely important. You either had class or you were nothing. Wilde satirises aristocracy through the most remarkably snobbish character in the play-Lady Bracknell. She is a Victorian lady of high class and perfection. Her snobbery is presented mainly over Jack's disreputable background. This can be seen in this very witty paradox- 'To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.' Wilde explores how having a good name and a respectable family was important to Victorian society, as it gained you a very good reputation. Wilde trivialises how if you lack a solid background or wealth, as in Jacks case, can disturb one of the upper class so greatly. Not only does Wilde trivialise aristocracy, he also satirises his view on society. He presents the empty lives of aristocracy and creates the perfect example of a hedonist, who prefers to eat, gamble, and gossip than have something better to do- Algernon. Jack: 'Eating as usual Algy.' Algy: ' I believe it is customary in good society to take some refreshment at five o' clock.' Pg 322. Wilde has described the play as about characters that trivialise serious matters and solemnize trivial matters. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, Cecily and Gwendolen repeat the same words about their desire to marry someone of the name Ernest, and what the name inspires. And Algy and Jack repeat each other's phrases when they wish to be christened, and when they ask Cecily and Gwendolen if they would still love them if their names were not Ernest. I think that Oscar Wilde has successfully mocked certain aspects of Victorian society. His main attack on Victorian lifestyle would probably have to be through marriage and aristocracy. He cleverly illustrates how snobbish the upper class were by creating Lady Bracknell, who is not a boring stereotype, but a serious woman with a typical Victorian double identity. By mocking marriage, I think Wilde has shown how absurd class is. Also, Wilde uses dramatic irony in the scenes where we discover Jack is branded 'immaterial' because he was found at a railway line, however, this reveals his true origins. This allows the audience to accept the extreme absurdities and silly coincides that took place in Victorian society. Wilde produces even more humour, by proving how indecisive the women are over forgiving the men for lying. Although it produces humour, he explores how ridiculous romantic decisions can become muddled up with deep absurd thoughts of the mind. The triviality in the play allowed me to thoroughly enjoy a witty, interesting and well-written play. Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

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