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The importance of being earnest by oscar wilde 2 essay

Jack and Algernon both create fictional identities for their own convenience. Are there any important differences between their deceptions?

  1. Robert Boyle describes Wilde's last play as a humorous "treatment of decay and death," and of "human suffering," in which Wilde finally abandons the effort to balance "conventional moral norms with the realities of human behavior" 325. Over the course of the play, the tension of embodying two disparate personalities becomes unbearable, but the more Jack tries to be earnest and less Ernest, the more complicated his relationships become.
  2. Gwendolen is the very paragon of Victorian femininity, and is so superficial that she declares she refuses to marry a man whose name is not Ernest. William Keach contends that Lady Bracknell's "cross-examination of Jack lays the groundwork for much of the rest of the plot" 184 , and that the underlying tension of the play depends upon "the contrast of city and country so important to the double lives being led" 183.
  3. Richard Foster believes that the terms "farce" and "comedy of manners" are unsuitable for this Wilde play because it is far more subtle, complicated, and artistic than such labels imply. They would assume that Jack, under his false identity in town, gets up to the kinds of mischief and dissolute behavior of which respectable society disapproved.
  4. A Note on Essay Topics Topics may call for comparison between two like things, such as the humour in a modern television sit-com situational comedy and The Importance Of Being Earnest. Wilde not only satirizes hypocrisy and sham virtue, he also mocks its authentic presence.
  5. Jack deceives even those closest to him. At times, it is not quite clear if the characters intend to imply another, usually hidden because socially dangerous meaning or if they are quite unconscious and even inept.

He appears never to hurt anyone with his fiction of Bunbury. His motive for creating Bunbury appears to be to have an excuse to escape from tiresome duties and responsibilities in town, such as dining with Lady Bracknell.

Because Algernon pretends that he goes to the country to look after the invalid Bunbury, he gains the additional benefit of borrowing the appearance of dutiful and charitable behavior. Algernon only adopts the persona of Ernest in order to meet Cecily, dropping the pretence immediately Cecily challenges him and honestly confessing his motive.

Jack, on the other hand, does pretend actually to be someone he is not. They would assume that Jack, under his false identity in town, gets up to the kinds of mischief and dissolute behavior of which respectable society disapproved.

He is known only as a morally upright guardian to Cecily and a Justice of the Peace judge to the wider community, not to mention a concerned and dutiful brother to the reprobate Ernest.

What are You Studying?

Jack deceives even those closest to him. Both Algernon and Gwendolen, the woman whom Jack wants to marry, initially know him as Ernest. Jack never admits to Gwendolen the real reasons for his long-term pretence of being someone else; instead, he merely allows her to believe an idea she puts forward, that he wanted an excuse to come to town frequently in order to visit her.

In his unrepentant dedication to deception and a double life, Jack represents Victorian hypocrisy, which turned a blind eye to all kinds of immoral behavior as long as a virtuous appearance was preserved. He wants others to think of him as the epitome of moral rectitude, when, in fact, he lives a lie.

  • Contrast, on the other hand, implies that the writer is out to demonstrate differences between things usually thought to be similar;
  • Pointing out that inverted relationships are the norm in this play, Robert J;
  • From your consideration of these characters' utterances and actions develop an appropriate essay topic;
  • Evidently, Lady Harbury has dyed her hair blonde and is enjoying life as never before.

In Victorian English middle- and upper-class society, marriage was seen as an opportunity for social and financial advancement. She also wants them to be rich. It is especially repugnant to her that Jack was a foundling discovered in a handbag.

From the SparkNotes Blog

Society, it is implied, is willing to overlook serious and substantial matters as long as the forms such as having identifiable parents, and living on the fashionable side of the street are preserved. Well into the second half of the twentieth century, the social stigma attached to homosexuality meant that much homosexual activity took place in anonymous places such as public toilets then often called cloak-rooms as the two functions were combined in one area.

How does Wilde use inversions in the play? A large part of the humor of the play springs from these inversions, occurring in the areas of character, plot, morality, and language. One of the major inversions is of conventional morality. Inversions of character include the revelation that Miss Prism, who has appeared to be a very paragon of rectitude, has a hidden past that includes writing a three-volume novel and misplacing an aristocratic baby Jack.

Rather, Wilde uses the convention of the revelation about a fallen woman to cast the respectable Miss Prism in a story of absent-mindedness and shame.

The Importance of Being Earnest: Essay Q&A

In another inversion of character, Lady Bracknell, because of her close relationship to the woman her sister, Mrs. The statement is one of many that mark Algernon out as a dandy, one who cultivates a leisurely lifestyle.

Sometimes, the point of a linguistic inversion is to satirize conventional society. In the case of Lady Bracknell, she does not stand apart from her comments and deliver them in order to be witty like Algernon but truly believes them.

This inverts the usual truism, strongly held by Victorian social reformers, that education is a desirable and improving thing. What is the role of women in the play? Wilde inverts the usual gender roles of Victorian and most pre-twentieth-century literature by portraying the women as the sexual aggressors in relationships and the men as fairly passive.

This female dominance is not confined to the younger generation of women. And certainly once a man begins to neglect his domestic duties he becomes painfully effeminate, does he not?

It is Lady Bracknell, and not her husband, as is the convention, who interviews Jack and Cecily about their suitability to marry Gwendolen and Algernon. Similarly, Lady Bracknell reveals that she often confines her husband to an upstairs room to dine, in order to preserve the considered arrangement of her dining table Act 1. Wilde subverts the Victorian expectation that women whose husbands have died should decorously confine themselves in deep mourning for many years, in the exchange between Lady Bracknell and Algernon about Lady Harbury.

Evidently, Lady Harbury has dyed her hair blonde and is enjoying life as never before. What is a dandy? Discuss the significance of the figure of the dandy with regard to The Importance of Being Earnest. A dandy is a man who places unusual importance on his clothes and appearance. He cultivates wit and refined language, and leads a leisured life.

Dandies were common in the literature and drama of certain periods, notably comic plays of the Restoration periodand in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century literature.

They were usually ridiculous figures who embodied the absurd fashions and mores of their time, and were meant to be laughed at by the audience or reader. His dandies are often profoundly good and moral people such as Lord Goring in his play An Ideal Husband.

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. Because he is an artist, he can be assumed to be close to a stand-in for the author.