The Importance of Being Earnest
Oscar Wilde was a prominent playwright of the Victorian era, and a personality to say the least. His biting humour and keen wit produced many popular plays and quotes of the time, and are still well known today. A satire is a play engaging the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices. ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is one of his better-known satires, effectively ridiculing many of the Victorian values that were of the greatest importance at the time. Wildes cutting and playful dialogue show his utter contempt for these values, most clearly satiring the ways of social class and the traditional roles of men vs. women.
In the Victorian era, the class system led to the belief that the different castes had completely different types of generalized people in them. For example, the upper class thought that the lower classes were uncouth, unsophisticated and that they were far better than them. Wilde uses the interactions of the butler, Lane, and Algernon to display this seperation of classes as different people.
“Lane’s views of marriage seem rather lax. Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, then what is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility.’ 1st Act
Wilde has used an inversion to highlight his discontented views of the class system; by making Algernons statement so ridiculous coming from his very immoral ways, he makes the audience realize that the stereotyping of entire classes is ---
Wilde, as not being born into the upper classes, but raised himself into their circles, cleverly points out the utter snobbishness of the upper class and the weight of importance that they place on it. Jacks lack of heritage causes uproar when revealed, affecting his suit of Gwendolen.
‘You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter – a girl brought up with the most utmost care – to marry