The Importance of Being Earnest: Victorian Society

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Oscar Wilde's satirical depiction of Victorian Society in The Important of Being Earnest comments on the absurdity of their inability to recognize the difference between the important and unimportant. Characters in the play often make trivial matters into serious matters and vice versa, although there are times where issues are treated appropriately. However, the whole idea of what is important is subjective, and in a Victorian Era context, matters such as social status and proper etiquette were considered important. Serious issues such as death, deception of identity and the lost child confusion are regarded in a trivial manner. In contrast, more trivial affairs such as the name Ernest, the breaking of an engagement and food are treated serious. Wilde's uses the inversion of what is serious and trivial to ridicule Victorian Society and their morals and values. The characters in The Importance of Being Earnest often treat serious issues as trivial matters. The act of "bunburying" involves deception and fraud and is carried out by Algy and Jack without any guilt or regard for consequences. Deception of identify is a criminal offence, however Algy justifies "bunburying" by saying to Jack "It it wasn't for Bunbury... I wouldn't of been able to dine with you at Willis' tonight," and "A man who marries without knowing Bunbury has a very tedious time with it". In addition to "bunburying", another serious issue treated trivially is death. The seriousness of death is taken light-heartedly in the play. Rather than associating death with grieving and suffering, these characters portray death as a method of conveniently eliminating unwanted people, whether imaginary or not. Jack tells Algy, "If Gwendolen accepts me, I am going to kill my brother" because "Cecily is a little too much interested in him." When Algernon tells L.B. "poor Bunbury died this afternoon" because "he was quite exploded", L.B. quickly fires back by stating, "he is well punished for his morbidity. " The...
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