Comedic Conventions Used in the Importance of Being Earnest

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What comedic conventions does Wilde use in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’? ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is considered to be Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece written in 1895. His work here involves mistaken identity, satire (social/class rankings), incredible wit and much more. It is theorised that this script was written in slight reflection of Wilde’s own life; he himself led a double life due to his sexuality. The incongruity theory is applied in this script throughout. At the beginning an example is when Lady Bracknell asks whether the handbag Jack was found in had handles as if it is an important factor. In general her reaction to Jacks history is ridiculous claiming Gwendolyn would ‘Marry into a cloakroom to a parcel.’ The character even claims to marry Gwendolyn he must get himself some parents – which is completely ridiculous. Another example of incongruity is the muffin scene towards the end. After both Cecily and Gwendolyn find out the truth about Jack and Algernon’s names and hurriedly leave one would expect the two characters to follow and attempt to straighten it out. Instead, both characters sit at the table and start fighting over who has the muffins in a very childlike manner. However this scene can also be seen as relief theory. After the serious event with the women the scene is quite tense and this scene breaks it. Wilde also loosely follows the schematics of the `green world’. To fully use the green world theory the end of the play would have to end in the town, not the country, as that is where the beginning took place. However he follows the rest of the theory perfectly; order – Jack being the only Ernest with no one knowing that they are the same person; chaos – Algernon pretending to be Ernest asking Cecily to marry him and Gwendolyn who Jack asked to marry him as Earnest comes to the country; resolution – when both male characters have been discovered and identities revealed. Throughout the script Wilde created comedy using wit and...
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