Humour In The Importance Of Being Earnest

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
The Importance of Being Earnest is one of Oscar Wilde’s most well-known plays and is known for its witty humour and the mocking of the Victorian society. Satirizing of the Victorian views on marriage and the morals and standards of the upper class creates humour in The Importance of Being Earnest. This is supported by stylistic devices and wordplays.
The characters in The Importance of Being Earnest, especially Lady Bracknell, mock the snobbism of the upper class. Lady Bracknell perfectly portrays an upper class Victorian woman. She cares very little about those who are poor or have no good status. According to Lady Bracknell, people from the lower class should not interfere with the lives of the upper class.
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But once she discovered Cecily’s funds, she soon changed her mind. She realised that marriage plays a huge role in the Victorian age, although Lady Bracknell might only have agreed to the marriage because it kept Algernon’s status high. Wilde mocks the importance of marriage in The Importance of Being Earnest by portraying Cecily and Gwendolen as desperate wealthy women. Both women are desperate to marry a man named Ernest, because “there is something in that name that seems to inspire absolute confidence. I pity any poor woman whose husband is not called Ernest.” Wilde uses the name Ernest to create many wordplays, including the title of the play. The play mocks the desperation Victorian women feel to get married. Wilde exaggerates the high standards by the usage of the name Ernest. This is an excellent use of exaggeration, since in real life no one would ever refuse to marry someone because of their name. However, both Cecily and Gwendolen refuse to marry anyone who is not named Ernest. Wilde’s choice of the name Ernest is also very clever; Ernest sounds exactly the same as earnest. Of course Cecily and Gwendolen would like to marry an earnest man, because he would have splendid manners and would be very sincere. This is also a smart joke by Wilde, since neither Jack nor Algernon are sincere, considering both men have lied multiple times, especially about their names. Wilde’s wordplay of …show more content…
He mocks the fake imagery of grandiosity and wealth by making Algernon do and say things that would not be accepted by the society. Algernon covers his “bunburying” up by blaming it on a suffering invalid, Bunbury. He uses Bunbury to get out of dinners with his aunt Lady Bracknell, since Algernon despises the snobbery atmosphere at those social parties. He explains it as follows to Jack: “I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury, in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose.” This implies that Algernon does not like to attend the high class activities, while the lower class men are dying to get in. Wilde uses Algernon and Bunbury to show the reality of the upper class. This leads to humoristic scenes, because in The Importance of Being Earnest, it comes to show that the upper class isn’t as fancy as it seems. Another way Wilde makes fun of the upper class is by Algernon’s eating habits. These are a mockery of how the upper classes feast on excess, while the lower class district of London was in one of the worst economical situations of England ever in the Victorian Age. Wilde uses loads of sarcasm and irony on Algernon. This works very well since Algernon’s function in the play is to mock the imagery of the upper class. I suspect Algernon moderately resembles Wilde’s views on the upper class, and that he uses Algernon

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