Text to Film Comparison - the Importance of Being Earnest

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The Importance of Being Earnest’ is used to represent a contradictory and hypocritical society. Oscar Wilde uses the text to reflect his own experience with an ignorant society; Oliver Parker does not replicate this in the 2002 film version of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ as he does not have the emotional influences that Wilde had. Therefore Parker does not produce an accurate representation of Wilde’s play; he only provides a comical historical representation of the milieu for a modern audience. The director and writer both explore the themes of marriage, morality and gender equality however their interpretation and manifestation of the themes differ.

The theme of marriage is represented in both versions of the text however the writer and director have different motivation for the demonstration of the theme. In Wilde’s version marriage is central to the plot and used as subject for constant debate whether it is for ‘business or pleasures’ which Algernon and Jack discuss in act one. Through the use of Lady Bracknell and her prepared interview with Jack -to earn Gwendolen’s hand- Wilde demonstrates the expectations and rules for to be acceptable in a Victorian society, acceptability which can only be gained through marriage. The questions which include Lady Bracknell and thus society’s ideology that smoking is an adequate occupation not only displays how idiotic and superficial society is but also reveals Wilde’s own cynicism on the significance of marriage. Wilde’s disregard for the practise is shown through his personal life where his marriage failed but also in the play where not one happy marriage exists. This is shown through the character of Lane who casually says he believes marriage “a very pleasant state,” before admitting that his own marriage, now ended, was the result of “a misunderstanding between myself and a young person.” This omission of this quote and Lane’s views on marriage from Parker’s film version shows how the director fails...
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