Importance of Being Earnest Analysis
In true definition of farce, Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest incorporates unlikely and improbable situations, extravagant characters, and the occasional mistaken identity. Wilde’s farce relies on creating absurd situations that characters approach in means they find entirely logical in his parody of high society. His protagonist, Algernon is the only character aware of the absurdities of Victorian high society, and responds by taking absolutely nothing seriously-leading a double life as a “Mr. Bunbury.”As he recognizes his brother practicing the same mischief, Algernon shares his “enlightened” philosophies about Bunburying with Jack through outstanding hypocrisy, paradox and epigrams, to create what Wilde deems “trivial comedy for serious people.”
The single trait each character shares is complete ignorance to hypocrisy. Algernon is absolutely dripping in hypocrisy, yet maintains the reputation of a dandy. As Jack defends the righteousness of his dear “Earnest,” Algernon reveals his own version of disguised mischief that he calls “Bunburying.” Jack refuses to accept this idea, while Algernon assures him that soon enough he too will discover salvation and “be very glad to know Bunbury.” The confusion and misconception of this argument creates comic effect, but it also shows deeper meaning behind the text. Although Jack is arguably the most logical of the bunch, his denial and stern approach to everything become his downfall in such a satirical setting. His unfair discrimination of Algy, “You are hardly serious enough. When one is placed in the position of guardian, one has to adopt a very high moral tone on all subjects,” is Jack’s method of mending his own guilty conscience. Ultimately, Wilde chooses the ridiculous to triumph, and the hypocritical to blunder, in true criticism of the Victorian era. Even when Jack and Algernon are caught in their lies, they never suffer any real consequences. The fact that they...
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