Hypocrisy In Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest

1374 Words 6 Pages
Webster’s dictionary defines earnest as a serious and intent mental state. This definition of earnest brings to mind many respected people who have influenced society in a positive manner. Oscar Wilde takes advantage of these initial reactions to the thought of being earnest to spin a story of Victorian Era upper class practices to challenge the world he lived in. Through his play The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde uses the notion of being earnest to display the absurdity that is deeply rooted in upper class Victorian Era beliefs and the hypocrisy that is easily accepted, and because of how the characters react to being trivial Wilde is able to reveal the shocking morality that comes through being openly immoral. The Victorian …show more content…
Hypocrisy is clearly visible in Algernon and Jack’s attempts to be earnest, but they are not the only characters who are caught up in the absurdity of Victorian Era values. Gwendolen, daughter of Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen is caught up in Jack’s double life, but finds that her “ideal has always been to love some one of the name Ernest”(Wilde). The name is more important to her than the mind behind it, and she believes that a man named Ernest must himself be earnest. The strict set of rules that the characters adhere to puts great limits on marriage, and Jack learns that the biggest obstacle he has to overcome if he wants to marry Gwendolen is not his name but his background. Lady Bracknell refuses allow her daughter to “marry into a cloakroom...and form an alliance with a parcel”(Wilde). Oscar Wilde continually points out the absurdity of only being concerned with what other people think through his characters and the word …show more content…
They were both trivial about their identities, but all that matters is who ends up with the name Ernest. While Jack and Algernon fight over who is to be christened, the girls come to terms with the situation they are in. They have to figure out how to respond to being trivial, and through this Oscar Wilde makes his greatest point. Both girls are willing to forgive Jack and Algernon for their triviality. Although it seems strange at first, the reasoning is later understand, and both girls are satisfied with the outcome. Cecily finds it easy to forgive Algernon because in her mind he is still Ernest. Cecily created a fake romance that was all her own, and even believed that she had been engaged to Ernest “on the 14th of February last”(Wilde). Due to this fake relationship, Algernon was able to continue to be her Ernest. Wilde uses this to point out that none of the characters possess earnestness. Cecily and Algernon are both trivial in their relationships with the world around them.
Triviality and hypocrisy is not limited to just the four main characters in The Importance of Being Earnest. Doctor Chasuble has triviality of his own towards Miss Prism. Although vowing to never marry, Chasuble finds himself attracted to Miss Prism and often overstepping his boundaries by making comments like “were I fortunate enough to be Miss Prism’s pupil, I would hang upon her lips”(Wilde). This double life of

Related Documents