The Importance Of Being Earnest Fact Analysis

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In Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, the characters often engage in quick, witty remarks towards one another. Yet beneath their comic front, these characters’ words subtly challenge the reality we think we live in, demanding the we see beyond what we have come to accept. When Lady Bracknell asks Algernon how he has been behaving and Algernon replies he has been feeling well, Lady Bracknell remarks, “that’s not quite the same thing. In fact the two things rarely go together” creating, via the use of the word fact, a definite, objective distinction between behavior and emotion (Wilde 1.244-245). However, Wilde employs the word fact in a way that deviates from its denotation as “that which is known […] to be real or true; what has …show more content…
Just a few lines after Lady Bracknell’s initial remark, Algernon laments to Lady Bracknell that “it is a great bore, and I need hardly say, a terrible disappointment to me, but the fact is I have just a telegram to say that my poor friend Bunbury is very ill again” (Wilde 1.282-284). Aided by a previous discussion between Jack and Algernon about the fictionality of Bunbury and the sarcasm suggested by Algernon’s profuse expression of regret, we immediately recognize the complete lack of veracity in Algernon’s assertion. However, in this context, Wilde no longer employs the word fact to suggest a tension between the official definition of fact and our implicit understanding that facts diverge beyond this formal meaning, but rather, constructs a juxtaposition between Algernon’s obvious fabrication and a slightly different definition of fact than the previously cited one, specifically, “a thing that has really occurred or is actually the case; a thing certainly known to be a real occurrence or to represent the truth” (OED). Algernon’s “fact” did not occur, nor does it “represent the truth” in the slightest, revealing that in practice, facts do not merely rest on the objective basis the definition suggests they do. As a result, we must begin to look beyond the reality we think we exist in and recognize that perhaps our attempts to assert an irrefutable reality through facts are highly subject to misuse, a recognition that undermines facts as a means to navigate reality. Moreover, the fact Algernon offers Lady Bracknell does not assert a definite truth as the definition implies, but paradoxically complicates and blurs reality, causing Lady Bracknell to skeptically question his claim as “very strange” (Wilde 1.285). Thus, Wilde demands a reexamination of the reality we have come to faithfully believe in, suggesting, though his first use of

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