Satire in the Importance of Being Earnest

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Andre Joshua Perez
Satire in the Importance of Being Earnest Essay
The use of comedy helps bring books, movies and plays to life. In some cases, it is even written around the idea of comedy itself. The play Importance of Being Earnest written by Oscar Wilde criticizes the aspect of the aristocratic life in the Victorian era by making fun of them with a term called satire. In the play, Wilde creatively uses three different types of irony. These being: verbal, dramatic and situational forms of irony. Each form of irony is used to mock the behavior and status of the characters, depending on their character and position in the society.

Verbal irony is shown in which a person says or writes something and means another, or uses words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of the literal meaning. The first for of irony is shown when Algernon accuses the protagonist, John/Jack Worthing, of being a “bunburyist”. A bunburyist is the invention of a person in which a person pretends to be in particular situations. These accusations of John are true considering that an imaginary younger brother named Ernest. In this situation, the irony is expressed when John meets Algernon’s cousin Gwendolen who seems to be in love with her at first sight. At this part, John introduces himself as his made up brother Ernest, then displaying the characteristics of being strong, brave and sincere to attract Gwendolen. These actions John portrayed in this scene are that of being Earnest. This form of Irony is easier to understand when viewing the personas of John and Ernest separately. John makes up this lie in order to keep Gwendolen attracted to him and win her love after she says, “I pity any woman who is married to a man called John, the only real safe name is Ernest”. The fact that John goes along with this lie is an indication of verbal irony, because in contradicting himself, he follows the definition of being earnest.

Another type of irony used by Wilde that used in...
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