The Importance of Being Earnest is to amuse.”
To what extent do you agree?
The Importance of Being Earnest was written by Oscar Wilde in 1894. It is a farcical comedy in which the main protagonists maintain a fictional persona to escape from social obligations, and keep it up throughout the play. It has also been known as ‘A Trivial
Comedy For Serious People’. The character of Jack Worthing has the persona of Ernest, who is his brother, whilst the character of Algernon Moncrieff has the persona of Bunbury, an invalid friend of Algernon’s. The play explores themes such as marriage and the satire of
Victorian ways, and addresses them in a comedic, yet serious way. The play is often viewed as a serious comedy due to the offensive nature of certain characters, such as Lady Bracknell who often says things such as: “To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”, and the way certain situations, that are often considered to be serious, are dealt with. Wilde uses several comedic devices to create the humour that occurs throughout the play.
Wilde uses language devices, such as puns, irony and innuendos to create humour throughout each act. The main pun in the play is in the title. Being “Earnest” implies that you are being serious or sincere, which was a very important Victorian value. However, this was not the case in regards to the character of Jack Worthing, as Jack is anything but truthful, because of his alter-ego, Ernest. The character of Gwendolen is set on marrying a man who goes by the name of Ernest, no matter whether or not he is actually “earnest”. As seen in Act III, she is quick to forgive him for his past deceptions, purely because he does, in fact, have the name of Ernest. Another pun that creates humour is said by Lady Bracknell in
Act I: “To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.” In this situation,