Gender in the importance of being earnest

Topics: Gender role, Man, Victorian era Pages: 3 (1309 words) Published: February 25, 2014
To what extent is gender the main comic creator in the play of ‘The Importance of being Earnest’? Comedy originated in the 6th century BC in ancient Greece at the Dionysian festival. Comedy was first designed to provoke laughter and to entertain the audience. The ancient Greeks used the word comedy to describe a play with a happy ending much the same as the play the ‘Importance of being Earnest’. The play uses elements of old comedy for example; it is a satire of the Victorian era that is most importantly applied through the use of gender and role reversal (ridicule to expose traditional gender value) it also weaves in strands of new comedy, where young lovers typically undergo endless vicissitudes. ‘The importance of being Earnest’ is a well-made play produced in the late Victorian era that uses traditional gender roles and turns them on their head, role reversal, to create comedy. It puts characters such as Lady Bracknell in positions of power by showing that the males in the play; Jack and Algernon, can be irresponsible and are inferior when it comes to decision making, it shows that this is a creator of comedy because at the time of production it was very much a man’s world and women were subordinate and uncontrolling. The act of role reversal and the use of gender makes “a mockery of what is unnatural” once said CL Barber: festive comedy, who summed up what comedy is very well, especially relatable to ‘The Importance of being Earnest’ and from the opening act we can see this very clearly through the character of lady Bracknell who embodies a very paternal and dominant role “when you do become engaged to someone, I for your farther, should his health permit...” immediately Lady Bracknell speaks of herself before acknowledging her husband which in turn leads us to believe she would make the decision without consulting her husband. We also get the impression that due to bad health Lord Bracknell does not make himself public, therefore Lady Bracknell takes on...

Bibliography: The importance of being earnest – Oscar Wilde (new mermaids)
Some critical views of comedy (pink/purple sheet)
Quotations on comedy; comedy for AQA B unit 2 English and media centre 2012
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