Oscar Wilde The Importance Of Being Earnest Satire Essay

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In Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde uses satire to ridicule the strict expectations of marriage and the Victorian aristocracy. He breaks from what is socially acceptable by creating extravagant situations and including eccentric characters. With its outlandish scenarios, “Wilde now uses, as plot, a purely farcical intrigue” (135 Roditi). The play involves changing of identity, misunderstanding lovers, and unexpected surprises. Each act leads to the events of the next act keeping the audience interested and amused. The elements of a farce compliment the use of satire used to illustrate the absurd lives of the Victorian elite. The play focuses on two couples, Jack and Gwendolen and Algernon and Cecily. Gwendolen and …show more content…
As Cecily explains how long they’ve been engaged, she declares, “It had always been a girlish dream of mine to love someone whose name was Ernest” (1450 DiYanni). Flustered by her confession, Algernon tries to convince her otherwise. He suggests his actual name, to which she retorts, “But I don 't like the name of Algernon” (1450 DiYanni). Here, Wilde uses her preference of name to reveal her shallowness. She is convinced that a name alone will lead to happiness. Cecily again shows off her conceitedness again in act two. Christopher Nassaar explains this moment as, “Cecily comically undercuts the notions of her perfection by vainly dashing off to copy Algy’s remarks into her diary” (133 Nassaar). She is more excited by the opportunity to make a nonfictional diary entry that she does not realize she is being wooed. Gwendolen and Cecily are not the only characters displaying vanity. Both Jack and Algernon are willing to change their names by re-christening themselves so that they can marry. Their willingness to comply with such an absurd requirement so easily illustrates their lack seriousness. They disregard the fact that a christening is only done once in a person 's life. Although both men show signs of vanity, Algernon is the most obvious of the two. Wilde uses his shallowness, extravagance, and vanity to incite laughter from the audience. He is a …show more content…
They appear to be one way, but their actions reveal their true selves. Jack and Algernon “assume false identities to sow their wild oats” (14 Popkin). Jack creates a rascal younger brother named ‘Ernest’ who does all sorts of despicable things. Algernon creates Bunbury, an invalid, who gets him out of unwanted social situations. Their alternative selves allow them to do whatever they want without having to be responsible for their actions. It also allows them to fully indulge in frivolous behavior, yet their “vice is a delightful, harmless thing: it cannot destroy” (133 Nassaar). They alternative selves exist so that they can enjoy themselves. It is not to avoid serious or dangerous situations. It is an escape from their constricting social expectations. Jack’s revelation “deepens his friendship with a fellow bunburyist” (144 Nassaar) much to Jack’s dismay. Algernon is amused by this commonality, however, Jack is not, he declares, “I am not a bunburyist at all” (1430 DiYanni). Their difference in character is shown again in this scene. Even though they do the same thing, Jack wants to keep it private whereas Algernon openly admits he is a bunburyist. Jack’s sudden disinterest of bunburying is his love for Gwendolen; he wants, to be honest with her. He is determined to marry Gwendolen and he states “I am going to kill my brother” (1430 DiYanni). He no longer needs to use another

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