Act 1 sees Lady Bracknell converse with Jack about his engagement with Gwendolen. The humour is sustained by Wilde’s mockery of Lady Bracknell and the ideals that Victorians in general deem important but are in fact trivial. The witticism embedded in Lady Bracknell’s comment that “ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone” ironically alludes to her haughty and arrogant airs and graces that is so typical of the upper-class of Victorian England. Her further realisation, that in England,
Mr Bennet purposefully asks such a question in order to satirise Mr Collins and due to this, it shows that Mr Collins prepares compliments and tries to not make it known that it is rehearsed, portraying his pretentious nature. Whenever Mr Collins is present, the reader is made aware that he will say or do things that will show how superficial and pompous he is. When recounting that he told Lady Catherine “her charming daughter seemed born to be a duchess, and that of the most elevated rank”, he told the Bennets that “these are the kind of little things which please her ladyship” and that he is “happy on every occasion to offer those little delicate compliments” that “are always acceptable to ladies”. Through saying this, it is made clear that Mr Collins may not always be complimenting Lady Catherine, because he truly believes in what he says, but because that is what Lady Catherine wishes to hear; this illustrates to the reader how pretentious he is. Again, through Elizabeth and Mr Bennet, the reader is made to realise the insensible and pompous nature of Mr Collins.
Wilde: Flaunting Societal Flaws with Literary Device The Importance of Being Earnest is a product of the “sober and dutiful earnestness” that (Tosh 12) commanded the times coupled with the author's palpable disdain for the same. Like his main characters Jack/Ernest Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, Oscar Wilde relies heavily on a purposeful duality; as an effective mechanism of humor, he stands the societal mores of the day on end, while the subtext beneath the comedy, fluff and wit, fingers the despicable hypocrisy of Victorian Society that ultimately brought Wilde to personal ruin (Grill 7). Wilde's writing reflects his own philosophies, namely his devotion to art above truth, and his highly prized individualism (Gale 1201). He himself has described The Importance of Being Earnest as "about characters who trivialize serious matters and solemnize trivial matters,” the very epitome of Victorian manners (Mitchell 262). Along this vein, Wilde calls on an arsenal of literary devices with which he reproaches a puerile Victorian society for holding ideals absent of sincerity, it's use of marriage as the currency of social status, and for maintaining the class divide.
Claudio and Hero share a conventionality, and compliant behaviour which contrasts sharply with Benedick's/Beatrice’s independent spirit, jaded opinions about the opposite sex, and their shared eccentric wit. Standard comedic pieces are utilised to address rigid social conventions and present often taboo concepts, that otherwise wouldn’t have been tolerated but within this instance are accepted as a form of social release as they make light of aspects of the society they inhabit. Within this comedic instance Benedick/Beatrice reprise the role of ‘Jesters’(with their self-proclaimed abstinence to marriage “I would not marry”) characters allowed to override social convention and converse with liberty despite their lack of nobility or title as their words are masked by comic delivery. ‘Jester’ is reference to the source of amusement within the king’s court and often the unlikely source of guidance and counsel as he unlike any other can speak freely without trepidation of persecution as because of his station he is not taken seriously. Such as the case with Benedick/Beatrice as their obscene outbursts and not only tolerate but applauded as the audience can because of the context of the piece easily
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.
The Importance of Being Earnest Paper The Importance of Being Earnest is a play by Oscar Wilde that is comical and absurd in its plot and its characters. Much of the humor in Wilde’s play covertly makes fun of the social establishments and institutions of the time. This downplayed humor adds to the plot and makes it more surreal yet entertaining. One of the topics made fun of in Wilde’s play is girls’ treatment of each other during his time. The scene in which this is expressed represents women of the late 19th century in a proper but ridiculous manner.
Unlike the dandies of tradition, Wilde’s dandies are not meant to be laughed at; rather, in their role of a truthful observer of society and individuals, they point to what is ridiculous or hypocritical, and the audience laughs with them. The most dandified character in The Importance of Being Earnest is Algernon. Idle and charming, Algernon surrounds himself with beautiful objects and furnishings, speaks in witty epigrams, and dresses with great style, if somewhat extravagantly. Algernon is amoral and neither good nor evil. He is also, in his own way, an artist, whose aim is to create beauty, style, and ingenious fictions that delight both himself and the audience.
Rhiannon Hill To what extent is Wilde satirising Victorian society in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ and how does this add to the comedy? The Importance of Being Earnest is a farcical, comedy of manners which uses satire to mock Victorian values, particularly within the upper class, ideals such as marriage for status. Wilde carefully uses each character to mock different aspects of society; Algernon Moncrieff (a young, eccentric dandy) is used to light-heartedly mock the superficiality of the upper classes, Lady Bracknell (a bold and powerful matriarch) is used to mock the Victorian ideals of marriage. Through Lady Bracknell, Wilde stretches the limits much further, as the satire of marriage ideals is much more controversial than the subjects that Wilde mocks through Algernon. Jack (a young man seeking marriage, who is lacking any sort of family) is used by Wilde alongside Algernon to show witty repartee and banter between the two characters.
Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance Of Being Earnest’ Within this essay, the themes of sexism, hierarchy and the importance of marriage will be explored. These are key themes to understand when reading ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde because it gives the reader insight into this age of literature. Referencing will be in accordance to ‘The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde’. By putting Lady Bracknell into a position of power at the beginning of the play and by showing that through their white lies and double life Jack and Algernon as men, can even make foolish mistakes are exceptions when it comes to the over all message that men at the time were actually of more social importance. Men were in the position to make the political decisions, women did not drive, men worked and woman stayed at home to bring up the children and preparing more and more social gatherings whilst being visited by ‘friends’ of theirs.
One famous play Wilde wrote was The Importance of Being Earnest which is a widely known play for its sarcastic plot of Victorian life. The play is about two seemingly good willed friends who have an addiction to what they describe as “bunbury”, which is treated almost similarly to a sport. The two men, Algernon and Jack, go through a series of lies, or bunburying, by fabricating fake lives to their family and friends to live a double life. Incidentally, they both meet women who wishes to marry each of the two men, but their bunburying has cause complications in their chances for a successful marriage. The rest of the play is humorous in all and highly advised for readers to also explore to fully visualize Wilde’s interpretation of the Victorian era.