To what extent do you think The Importance of Being Earnest is only a comedy of manners?

Topics: Comedy, Social class, The Importance of Being Earnest Pages: 4 (1479 words) Published: December 16, 2013
The importance of Being Earnest is a comedy of manners, as it explores codes of upper and middle class society. For example,"I don't play accurately - any one can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression.". However, The Importance of Being Earnest has other types of comedy, such as, comedy of humours and farce. Comedy of humours focuses on a character of range of characters, who have an over riding trait or humour that dominates their personality. For example, Algernon’s greed. Farce is a dramatic comedy that creates humour through a series of ludicrous events taking place in rapid succession. For example, Cecily andGwendolyn fighting over the same man who doesn’t exist, followed by a baptism that isn’t needed.

One way in which The Importance of Being Earnest is only a comedy of manners is that Wilde purposely wants to expose the Victorian upper class’ norms and values in society. Wilde centres the play on love, money and marriage. In the play it is clear that the younger hypocricy such as, Jack, Algernon, Gwendolyn and Cecily, only really care about love and marriage, whereas, Lady Bracknell soon changes her opinion of Cecily when Jack mentions she has alot of money in the funds, and agrees to let Cecily and Algernon get married. There is a clear class distinction between the higher and lower hypocricy, as ones of higher only seem to really care about money, and the lower seem to only care about getting married and being in love. Furthermore, the two young females, Cecily and Gwendolyn seem to hold strong opinions, but when it comes to love they seem to only fall in love with the idea of the name “Earnest”, and they feel that they can love no other. Earnest, meaning, sincerity and seriousness. However, we learn throughout the play that Jack and Algernon, who both pretend to be Earnest, are not at all serious. An example of this would be, that both Jack and Earnest want to get baptised as the name “Earnest” , not only does this show the serious...
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