The Theme of Marriage in the Importance of Being Earnest

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Precious Bethell
Eng 312
Dr. Ian Strachan
February 26th, 2013

Marriage is often depicted as a sacred union of love, communication, loyalty and companionship. For some it is simply a legal contract or social institution that binds two people together for a “lifetime commitment”. Oscar’s Wilde’s “The importance of being earnest”, deconstructs the former interpretation of marriage, highlighting its trivialities and the comedic journey to finding a spouse. Likewise, Samuel Beckett’s “Happy Days” suggests that marriage is not all a bed of roses by highlighting the main character Winnie’s loneliness and longing for a companion. Though initially the two plays appear immensely diverse, they both contain comparative points that lead to the social theme of the triviality of marriage and artfully demonstrate the issues surrounding. The importance of being earnest commences with a conversation between Algernon Moncrieff, one of the main characters and his butler. While awaiting the arrival of Lady Bracknell, the two discuss marriage and what it really is. What is interesting about this conversation is the fact that Algernon, a man who has never been married can speak of the woes that is in marriage. He seems to have the idea of marriage being seen as a demoralizing act as aforementioned. He suggests an attitude of pessimism as it relates to marriage and the aspects surrounding it. How then is he able to comment on a union that he has never been a part of? One can assume that either he has been exposed to marriage or at this time of Victorian England, marriage may have been demoralized because of the actions of persons who were in fact married. The mere fact that Algernon who has never been married has a pessimistic, unpleasant outlook on marriage highlights the idea that marriage was undermined in the English Society at the time. In Beckett’s “Happy Days” however, one is able to be a part of the emotional, lonely journey of the main character Winnie, who is...
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