The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, is widely considered to be one of the greatest works of English literature. The satirical comedy centers around two young men who lead double lives in order to win the affections of the ladies they love.
This brilliant and funny play touches on themes such as social class, gender roles, and self-deception, making it both a classic work of literature and a relevant commentary on contemporary society. Whether you are new to Wilde’s writing or are a long-time fan, The Importance of Being Earnest is an essential addition to any reading list.
In “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Oscar Wilde pairs characters and also splits his characters into two opposing groups. Explain how he does this and why. The play “The Importance of Being Earnest” is a childlike innocence and nonsense drama. To bring this to the audience, Wilde needed to be straightforward, so he employs seven major characters in the piece who are simply paired and contrasted. Wilde matches people based on their ideals, goals, and relation. Opposing qualities create the opposing factions.
The first group is based on the value of sincerity and honesty, while the second group is built on deception. The two groups are also distinguished by their attitudes towards love and marriage. The first group sees love as something that should not be taken too seriously, while the second group is more traditional and believes in true love.
Wilde pairs Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew, Ernest Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff and Lady Bracknell and Miss Prism. He does this to create a contrast between each character’s ideal. For example, Gwendolen Fairfax believes that ‘the only really safe name’ is Ernest, whereas Cecily Cardew prefers ‘Algernon’. This creates a contrast in the values of each character. The two men, Ernest Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, are also paired because they share similar views on love and marriage. They both believe that love should not be taken too seriously and that marriage is a ‘serious business’.
However, their attitudes towards women are different. Ernest Worthing is more traditional and believes that women should be treated with respect, whereas Algernon Moncrieff sees them as objects of amusement. The final pairing is between Lady Bracknell and Miss Prism. Lady Bracknell is a traditional woman who believes in true love, while Miss Prism is more modern and believes that love is not as important as other things.
Overall, Wilde pairs and contrasts his characters to create a play that highlights the value of innocence and nonsense. Through this contrast, he is able to communicate a subtle but powerful message about the importance of being honest and sincere in all aspects of life.”
At first, Wilde’s technique is difficult to discern since Act 2, when all of the characters have been introduced to the audience, is when it begins. Here, the audience begins to connect and contrast the characters. Jack and Algernon are both “Bunburyists,” leading double lives, who are the play’s first pair. Ernest, a fictitious brother invented by Jack in order to visit the city whenever he pleases, is an “invaluable permanent invalid” known as “Bunbury.”
However, Gwendolen also loves him but thinks that his name is Ernest. The playwright shows us how Jack transforms into the role of a man named Ernest as he enters into the city. The trickery and wit involved in this play are what make it one of Wilde’s most celebrated comedies.
Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Earnest” is a comedy that explores both social satire and witty wordplay. Set during the late Victorian era, the story centers on two young bachelors who lead double lives in order to pursue pleasure trips and romantic interests.
The main characters, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, use various schemes and tricks to fool those around them. In the end, both men find themselves in compromising situations that threaten to expose their true identities. The play is known for its clever dialogue and light-hearted humor.
Wilde’s use of satire is evident in his portrayal of the upper class Victorian society. The characters are often shown to be superficial and obsessed with trivial matters such as appearances and social status. For instance, Gwendolen Fairfax insists on marrying a man named Ernest because she believes that it is “a name that belongs to no one else in the world”.
Wilde also pokes fun at the institution of marriage, which was highly valued during the Victorian era. The character of Lady Bracknell is particularly critical of marriage, stating that “a handbag is so very much more important!” The playwright thus uses comedy as a means of highlighting the absurdities of Victorian society.
Despite its comedic tone, “The Importance of Being Earnest” also explores deeper themes such as identity and deception. The characters often attempt to hide their true selves in order to manipulate others or pursue their own desires. The plot revolves around various schemes and duplicity that have far-reaching consequences for the characters involved.
In the end, it is revealed that both Jack and Algernon are actually unmarried men who have been deceiving those around them by posing as Ernest and Bunbury respectively. Through his satirical portrayal of upper class society and use of deceptive plot twists, Wilde highlights the importance of being honest and truthful in one’s interactions with others.
Furthermore, Act 2 shows Algernon proposing to Cecily Cardew: “I adore you, Cecily. Will you marry me? ” Yet it has always been Cecily’s and Gwendolen’s desire to wed someone with the surname Ernest. As a result, both males believe of being christened first when proposing: “I’ll have to get christened right away.”
In Act 2, they ask Dr. Chasuble to change their names to Ernest, expressing the desire that “we can’t be called both Ernest.” Both men are involved in a murder in the play. Jack makes a promise to kill his made-up brother if Gwendolen accepts him: “If Gwendolen accepts me, I’ll murder my brother.”
The fact is, I have been so harassed with his silliness lately that I can’t stand it any longer. ” The stage directions say that Ernest is shot as he enters the room: “Ernest falls dead. Gwendolen screams and throws herself upon the body. The two Doctors rush forward. The Butler seizes Algernon” (Wilde 34). The killing of Ernest is a direct consequence of both men pretending to be this single man. The play highlights Wilde’s belief that manners and social conventions are more important than truth and sincerity.
This is demonstrated by Gwendolen Fairfax’s insistence that Jack Worthing must be called Ernest: “To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. ” The general tone of the play is one of satire and irony, with Wilde making many witty remarks throughout. In Act 1 he makes this comment about Cecily’s governess Miss Prism: “She does not sufficiently realise the very real difficulties of whose position she has added so much to by her romantic ideas and activities in the cause of elementary education.
The young lady was really greatly distressed at parting from her pupils, so I offered to find some other situation for her, but she is too conscientious” (Wilde 8). The audience can see that despite the fact that Jack calls himself Ernest all the time, there are inconsistencies in his story. The man that Gwendolen Fairfax believes she is going to marry does not exist, which causes a great deal of irony in the play.
Wilde also makes light of the fact that people in Victorian society were often named after saints: “My godmother was extremely pious. I was christened after her. She had a large family, and intended to christen all her children after good Catholic Saints” (Wilde 32). The names of the characters in The Importance of Being Earnest are therefore very significant, as they represent Wilde’s views on Victorian society.
The playwright also uses language to satirise the way that people spoke in this period. For example, when Gwendolen Fairfax tells Jack that she is called after a “fair Saxon saint,” he replies: “It is a most romantic story. The empress Theodora was the daughter of Theodosius the Younger. Theodosius died when Theodora was only seven years old, and she became an actress. At that time the Roman law allowed no woman to appear on the stage” (Wilde 35).
Overall, The Importance of Being Earnest is a play which cleverly exposes Victorian society for its hypocrisy and formality, while also making witty remarks about language and name-giving conventions. It stands as one of Oscar Wilde’s most enduring works and has been widely praised for its wit and clever satire. Whether you are interested in the social conventions of Victorian society or simply enjoy a good dose of light-hearted comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest is certainly worth a read!