Timeless Message of Equality in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest

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Timeless Message of Equality in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest satirizes Victorian society. The witty epigrams of his characters provide light comedy masking the underlying theme of criticism of the Victorian way of life. Wilde's effective use of humour diffuses the tense theme of his work. In a Victorian society that emphasized progress, it was precarious for artists like Oscar Wilde to express an imperfect interpretation of life in nineteenth-century England. Wilde's attack on the ethics of his era is an attempt to fulfill the author's prophecy that art has the power to dictate life, not merely imitate it (614-615). At a time when the world measured progress in
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(2). Algernon?s view of lower class that ?[t]hey seem as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility? (2) is parallel to the Victorian upper class condescending view of the lower class. As the stock characters of Algernon and Lane methodically follow the mold of master and servant in this hilarious story, their conventional behaviour becomes a source of humour and satire itself. The ?yes sir, no sir? attitude of Lane is mixed with his successful attempts to match wits with his employer, making the speech between Algernon and Lane appear confrontational. Through Lane, Oscar Wilde is assaulting the pretentious attitude of the Victorian elite who believe they are more important to society than the lower class members. His intelligent portrayal of Lane suggests there is no discrepancy in intelligence between upper and middle class individuals and topples the social construct of the class system.

Oscar Wilde satirizes the upper class? idea of progress by making short remarks about the importance of reading, the effectiveness of modern education, and the emergence of social cleverness. According to Wilde, the individuals of Victorian society try to capture progress in their social interactions. His character Jack combats social cleverness saying, ?[e]verybody is clever now-a-days...The thing has become an absolute public nuisance. I wish to goodness we had a few fools left? (16). Here

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