Topics: Victorian era, The Importance of Being Earnest, Comedy Pages: 3 (1283 words) Published: March 24, 2013
It has been said that a key role of comedy is to transgress what is normally accepted, including social and sexual taboos. How and to what extent do you think this is true of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest? The De fabula of Evanthius said that comedy is “a mirror of everyday life that treats of various habits and customs of public affairs, from which one may learn what is of use…and what must be avoided” which is true of the play The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. However Wilde parallels these aspects of everyday life and transgresses them for comic value. Wilde uses Lady Bracknell as a tool for inversion when transgressing the social image of women. Lady Bracknell is not a typical Victorian woman; from her first introduction Wilde skilfully engenders an image of a domineering and haughty woman designed for the amusement of the audience; being a gathering of middle and upper class theatregoers who would have roiled with laughter at Lady Bracknell’s many declarations. However, he clearly uses her to mock people of such social standing; the fact that she is a woman and yet has so much influence over whom the men marry would have been comical as a woman should not have has such control over familial relationships. Wilde uses stage directions to illuminate the character's attitude towards others; when greeting Jack her bow is undertaken with 'icy coldness'. The adjective 'icy' in this context clearly conveys her frigid aloofness towards Jack. This is transgressed as in those days it was socially right for women to be warm and welcoming towards men regardless of their stature yet Lady Bracknell inverts this social convention. Wilde overturns the usual introductory polite introductions with 'I hope you are behaving well' suggesting that she knows that these young men are up to no good, Wilde uses this double entendre to cleverly hint at the hidden 'double-lives' of many that the male audience would have held. The irony is that, at the time...
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