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To love or not to love; that is not the question?

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Introduction

To love or not to love; that is not the question? Victorian English are famous for being hypocritical. England at the time is now regarded as having too many regulations for ladies and gentlemen. Therefore, it is reasonable enough to infer that people at the time would find some ways to escape from the superficial reality. In "The Importance of Being Earnest", Oscar Wilde delightfully uses many satires, motifs and paradoxes to explore the contradiction between the appearance and nature of marriage, while concerning social status and morality, during the Victorian Era. At the same time, the tendency of hypocrisy is also revealed in this farce. Intentionally or not, Oscar Wilde uses various motifs, namely recurring structures and contrasts, to show readers the appearance of marriage versus its nature. The most obvious repeating structure might be the pairs of Jack-Gwendolen and Algernon-Cecily. In Act I, Jack Worthing proposes to Gwendolen Fairfax, who later on confesses that it is only the name Ernest which makes her desperate to marry, as Wilde writes, "There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence. ...read more.

Middle

(p. 64)" Contrasting the two views of engagement, it can be figured out that Cecily has overly trivialized the serious nature of marriage, while Lady Bracknell has overly solemnized the romantic nature of marriage, concerning only the social appearance of the marriages. Readers may see them as nonsensical; but simultaneously, they show the Victorian restrictive and utilitarian philosophies of marriage. In addition, using humorous paradoxes, the theme of social status and morality affecting marriage is revealed in the farce of "The Importance of Being Earnest". It seems to readers that with respect to a Victorian marriage, social status and ethics are inextricably involved. The inconsistency of Lady Bracknell is a good example. For instance, she sententiously mentions, "Few girls of the present day have any really solid qualities, any of the qualities that last, and improve with time. We live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces. ...read more.

Conclusion

He should not be a reliable man to marry; but his name Ernest Worthing makes him reliable. In this sense, the morality of marriage in this mock Victorian society is not only controlled by one's origin and social status, but is also inconsistent and superficial conclusively. In the end, the entire play is presented as a farce which satirizes the Victorian aristocrats' views of marriage and morality. Ironically, Jack is even presented the name "Ernest" at the end of the play, which is absolutely a big twist. Marriage is also regarded as a sincere promise; however, the idea is totally trivialized in the play - to love or not to love, that is not the question to marry. As Wilde states, "It [The play] has its philosophy... that we should treat all the trivial things of life seriously, and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality." From the insincere manners of Jack and Algernon, to the hypocritical behaviours of Lady Bracknell, Wilde's idea of marriage is definitely true, with regards to the Victorian aristocracy. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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