Oscar Wilde: A Provocateur of Change

920 Words4 Pages
During Oscar Wilde’s literary career, he has been accredited for his notorious use of satire within his writings. Satire ridicules flaws in society in order to bring about change. His use of satire in the play, The Importance of Being Earnest, is reflected in how the characters live double lives. His play is a demonstration of how Victorian society accepts appalling behavior as long as it is concealed to the public. Oscar Wilde is credited for being a provocateur for change in nineteenth century England. Wilde provides his audience with the opportunity to witness the inner-workings of Victorian society and their rebellion against following the social norms. Oscar Wilde uses the fabricated identities of Jack and Algernon, the main characters of the play, to show the rebellious nature of the aristocracy. Wilde portrays the Victorian upper-class as rigid and the secret lives are necessary to provide the freedom to express who they really are. While the middle-class of England looks up to the upper-class Victorians with respect and envy, both Jack and Algernon dislike the propriety of it all. They would rather spend time in the country away from the constraints of upper-class society. As Jack explains about his fictitious life, “When one is placed in the position of guardian, one has to adopt a very high moral tone on all subjects. It’s one duty to do so. And as a high moral tone can hardly be said to conduce very much to either one’s healthiness and happiness, in order to get to town I have always pretended to have a little brother named Earnest,” (Wilde 18). The pressure of being under scrutiny as a member of the aristocracy causes Jack to feel the need to escape in order to relieve the pressure of high society. Without the occasional escape from the city, both Jack and Algernon would not be able to function under the amount of stress that is put on them
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