The Importance of Being Earnest Irony Essay

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The play The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde is full of irony. John (Jack) Worthing and Algernon (Algy) Moncrieff, the protagonists in the play, get themselves into a complex situation called Bunburyism. Jack and Algy pretend to be someone that they are not to escape their daily lives. They are dishonest to the women they admire and ultimately the truth is uncovered. Irony is first observed when Algernon (Algy) Moncrieff accuses the protagonist, John Worthing, of being a “bunburyist” (Act I). A bunburyist is the invention of a person, in which one pretends to be in certain situations. These allegations about John are legitimate taking into account that he has created an imaginary younger brother named Ernest. In this situation, the irony is expressed to the reader when John meets Algy’s cousin, Gwendolen, and he falls in love at first sight. At this point, John introduces himself as his made up brother, Ernest. After a brief conversation between the two, irony can be observed when John, whom is pretending to be Ernest, displays the characteristics of being honest, strong and brave towards Gwendolen. The actions John portrays in this scene are that of being earnest. However, John makes up this lie in order to win Gwendolen’s love and keep her interested in him after she explains, “I pity any woman who is married to a man called John... The only real safe name is Ernest.” (Act l). The fact that John goes along with this lie is an indication of irony, because in contradicting himself he follows with the definition of being earnest. Irony also emerges in the play when Algy is discussing with Jack and has doubts about his true identity. After Algy analyzes Jack’s business cards he states, “It is perfectly absurd you’re saying that your name isn’t Ernest. It is on your cards” (Act I). Depending on the importance of whom he is talking to, John

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