Importance of Being Earnest

1555 Words7 Pages
"Wilde exploits the conventions of comedy merely for sensational effects. He fails to present a critical view of society" Explore your different responses to this view. The Importance of Earnest is a play by Oscar Wilde, instructed to have "no real interest" and be "light comedy for serious people". This defines the notion that Wilde's purpose was to simply make his audience react. It is suggested by this then that the play holds no deeper meaning or message of morality; it is simply designed to fulfill a purpose through usage of traditional comedic techniques. However, some have interpretated themes of sexuality and a gentle mocking of Victorian customs ultimately leaving the play open to assumption. The Importance of being Earnest certainly maintains many traits of a great comedy of manners, "A comedy that satirizes behaviour in a particular social group"( In fact many people have hailed it as "the greatest stage comedy of all time", this triumph supports the viewpoint that Wilde merely succeeded in entertaining his audience rather than channeling a deeper understanding. The use of slapstick by Wilde produces a contrived and absurd plotline that is in every way unrealistic. The lack of morality in the characters defines how undeveloped they are. For example, Algernon uses the aphorism, "The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her if she is pretty, and to someone else if she is plain" highlighting his ignorance and casual selfishness. Each one of the characters is in some way lacking either true morality or even awareness of reality. Gwendolyn in particular is fond and proud of her education yet in the end she easily forgives Jack for lying to her throughout the play underlying a sense of stupidity. This easy acceptance of liars by the characters highlights Wilde’s disregard for the flaws of both the characters and society therefore
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