Oscar Wilde - Satire in the 'Importance of Being Earnest' Essay

1284 WordsSep 4, 20146 Pages
From Family Guy, to the Simpsons to Gulliver’s Travels, what do they have in common? Something we’ve come to call satire over the last few hundred years. Satire is laced throughout a plethora of mediums including traditional plays, novels, television shows and movies. On the surface, satire entertains and makes us laugh, but when we begin to peel back the layers of satire’s complex mask, we are presented with messages and criticisms on societal foundations and behaviours. But all good jokes get old and stop being funny, right? What happens when satire gets old? Let’s take a look at the classic play, written by Oscar Wilde ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ (1895). Satiric texts written over a century ago, like ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ still retain their punch in the modern day, due to the way they draw parallels to the modern world in what they seek to satirize. Wilde’s play, satirizes the Victorian era, specifically dealing with marriage/love and social class – both subjects which are still relatable today. The white dress, the dashing groom and the red roses is what love and marriage is all about. Or so that’s what we’d like to believe. Marriage is the official bonding between two people who love each other and wish to spend the rest of their lives together is it not? This is what Wilde’s play pokes holes at through his use of satire. The question he raises is, essentially what do we marry for? To give us a bit of context, rewinding back into the Victorian era, it was really not that uncommon for people to marry solely for financial reasons. While this was the main reason for marriage, it also happened due to a sense of social obligation. People didn’t marry because they were in love. This goes against what marriage is really intended for in the first place isn’t it? Wilde plucks at the questionable nature of marriage in the Victorian era. Lady
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