Importance of Being Earnest

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The entire work of The Importance of Being Earnest is founded upon seeing the humor beneath the surface. Although it certainly does have its number of moments intended to induce laughter, the underlying humor and hypocrisy are the most enjoyable parts to the observant reader or listener. The biggest sources of this “thoughtful” humor are the puns, the satirizing of modern living, and the hypocrisy of every character’s actions. Puns are often thought to be a very low form of humor – a literary sucker punch thrown to get a few cheap laughs. These type of puns are certainly found in the play in lines such as “As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte” and “It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn’t a dentist. It gives a false impression.” In The Importance of Being Earnest, many of the puns are expanded upon to a point that requires a second reading or careful observation. An example of this elaborate pun would be Bracknell’s criticizing of Jack’s infancy. She uses phrases such as “origin” and “Terminus” to indicate that he has no real past. The Importance of Being Earnest puts a satirical spin on the vanity and fruitlessness of modern living. Wilde recognizes that many people take themselves too seriously, and thus uses the opportunity to belittle them. Algernon’s character embodies this notion. Algernon is the opposite of the average person: he finds importance in “trivial” matters and brushes off huge responsibilities. For example, he takes serious pride in his meals, yet doesn’t think twice in deceiving Jack and Cecily for his own benefit. Another example would be Lady Bracknell’s casual speech when discussing death, as if it is an unimportant occurrence and should not be paid too much attention. Every single major character in the play displays large amounts of hypocrisy. The title of the play itself is hypocritical and should

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