Oscar Wilde, ca. 1894
“Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.”
- Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan
Oscar Wilde liked to write plays that pointed at the aristocracy and nouveau riche in a critical way, but of course, written in a funny way so that his work became satirical. Oscar Wilde was therefore a brilliant writer of comedies of manners, the entertainment form that satirizes the manners of a social class, in Wilde’s case, the high upper class, as previously mentioned.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” is a great example of this, as Wilde in this play, repeatedly mocks Victorian traditions, such as the pursuit of love, which we see in both Gwendolen and Cecily, who both have put their faith in the Christian name of Earnest, quite unlike the mother of Gwendolen; Lady Bracknell who is much more methodical and analytical of whom her daughter …show more content…
It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn’t a dentist. It produces a dales impression.” and a comment by Gwendolen: “The fact is constantly mentioned in the more expensive monthly magazines, and has now reached the provincial pulpits”
The last thing to focus on, what I have focused on, of the literary terms tied to comedy of manners, is the double entendres, the best example of this, is the title itself, which is also satirical: “The Importance of Being Earnest” Ernest is a name, and was very popular in Victorian times, where earnest is an adjective, meaning to be sincere, serious and purposeful.
This specific double entendre has also inspired later works of fiction, for example the movie “The Long Kiss Goodnight” from 1996, where Samuel L. Jackson’s character Mitch Henessey says: “I’m always frank and earnest with women. In New York I’m Frank and in Chicago I’m