Victorian Society in "The Importance of Being Earnest"

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Emma Harford Mrs. IF 6th Hour 10/2/13 The Importance of Being Earnest, written by Oscar Wilde, is a play set in Victorian-day England, where appearance and class overrides truth and morality. Wilde addresses this inside his play by using secrecy to show how Victorian society reveres people for their style and prestige, but not for their substance as a character. One of the main secrets in this play is held by Algernon Moncrieff, a narcissistic and sarcastic man who has created an imaginary friend, Bunbury, who he uses to escape his boring family and social engagements and responsibilities (not to mention, it provides excitement in the dull life that is Victorian England). In the beginning he does reveal this secret to Jack, but keeps it hidden from his family and other characters. The fact that Algernon can nonchalantly reveal a secret to another liar shows the shallowness in Victorian relationships. Their bonds hold no loyalty to one another and so they constantly abuse it. Algernon lies and keeps using “Bunbury” as an excuse so that he may get out of having to see them because seeing them is a chore to him. Instead of appreciating his family members’ relationship and being intimate with them, he treats them like dirt. This conveys to the audience how their love is inside a family, where love should be at its strongest, is distant and insincere as they hold each other away. He not only “bunburys” his family, but also bunburys as Jack’s deviant brother Ernest to get to his young and pretty ward, Cecily, and win her heart. By gaining her affection through a name instead of his actual identity as a character shows how superficial love is in this era; one loves another for his/her title, not for his/her substance as an individual. The people in this time period married another person for unimportant reasons, such as social class, instead of his or her inner
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