The importance of being Ernest

Topics: Victorian era, Social class, Sociology Pages: 3 (1499 words) Published: September 21, 2014
‘What can a poor critic do with a play which raises no principle, whether of art or morals, creates its own canons and conventions and is nothing but an absolutely wilful expression of an irrepressibly witty personality?’ Does the dramatic comedy in ‘Earnest’ seek only to amuse an audience or has the play more of a moral message than might, at first, be clear? The importance of being Earnest is a satirical comedy, which ridicules the social values of the Victorian Era. Despite the farce used within the play, the comedy is shown to have deeper meaning. As Freud said, “Every joke contains an element of seriousness; a joke is never just a joke.” Related to this quote, in ‘Earnest’, l think there is a moral message, mocking the Victorian society, aimed towards the Upper class and their disregard for social conventions. In act 1, Wilde uses burlesque and double acts to show how marriage was treated as less important and used only to further one’s wealth. Jack: I am in love with Gwendolen. I have come up to town expressly to propose to her. Algernon: I thought you had come up for pleasure…l call that business. The use of “business” suggests how marriage was seen as merely an agreement that benefited both partners and used to develop wealth and status. Algernon does not see love as a pleasure which might suggest how in Victorian times, love was not necessary in marriage, but instead only wealth. In Victorian Era, women were seen as tickets to wealth as their fathers sold them off to richer families to benefit their business. In this, Wilde might be mocking Victorian society, and how their lives were lacking in that they only cared for money and the ways to gain it but not in building lasting relationships with one another. While Jack seems to value marriage and is serious in his love for Gwendolen, Algernon is appears to be aware of the absurdities of his society, but instead he takes nothing seriously. Algernon: if l ever get married, l’ll certainly try to forget...
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