It was once said that life is a theater with all the people being actors in it. The actors on the stage play roles, to make the people believe that they are not who they are, and at the end of the play, the actors return to their rooms, remove the make-up and restore their true identity. To an extent, real life is similar in a way that people present different versions of themselves to other people they interact with, and in that regard, showing their real faces is a privilege limited to close people if any. In that regard, people continue acting and playing roles, with everything around us giving such opportunities for people, starting from job positions and titles, and ending with internet social networks and role-playing games. In that regard, a similar position of people acting with each other can be seen through the plays “Sure Thing” by David Ives, and “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde. This paper analyzes the similarity of the two plays in portraying such topics, stating that the plays portray acting as a common aspect of our life depending on different circumstances.
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“Sure thing” by David Ives shows the development of the relationships between a man and a woman, with each line in the dialogue not leading to a logical follow-up interrupted by a bell that starts the dialogue with another version of the line. With different versions of various lines, the relationship between Bill and Betty, the play’s protagonists, slowly develops until they fall in love with each other.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” shows the way the play’s main protagonists Algernon and Earnest, live a double life taking another identity whenever it is best suiting them in avoiding a certain responsibility. Their double identities lead to frustration and comic situations, specifically when they start relationships with women. The play ends with each character finding his love with his tru8e identity after all.
The Relationships Between Sexes
In “Sure Thing” it can be said that the relationship between sexes is the basis of the play, where actions can be seen as one of the interpretations of the different versions of the lines. In responses to the question Betty asks about a girlfriend, it can be seen that the variations such as “Two, actually”, “No, I don’t have a girlfriend. Not if you mean the castrating bitch I dumped last” (Ives, 1993, p. 149) and the correct answer that leads to a follow-up, showing the true self is not a good thing to initiate the relationship.
In “The Importance of Being Earnest” the relationship between sexes is also based on the external factors of the people, where for example it can be seen that Gwendolen stating that “she always been to love someone of the name of Ernest” (Wilde, 2006) is a factor for Ernest-Jack to play a role, rather than be himself, where he stated that “the truth isn’t quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice, sweet, refined girl” (Wilde, 2006).
It can be seen that in both plays the approach to showing different versions of oneself differ in terms of the way this oneself is presented. In “Sure Thing” the different answers contrast with each other, while in “The Importance of Being Earnest”, the acting mostly implies taking a different name.
In “Sure Thing” the chosen setting for acting is emphasizing the dating process, where all of the actions in the play are taking the place during the developments of the relations during dating. In that regard, the play points to that certain aspects are better not to be said during such conversations, such as male chauvinism phrases, “I believe that a man is what he is” (Ives, 1993, p. 150)
In “The Importance of Being Earnest” the setting varies from relationships between sexes to everyday situations, such as the main purpose of Ernest leading a double life, where being “placed in the position of guardian, one has to adopt a very high moral tone on all subjects” (Wilde, 2006).
It can be seen that the differences between the settings are not exclusive in their positions, where the short nature of “Sure Thing” and its focus on a single theme can be seen as an explanation of the commonality of such phenomenon specifically in the dating process.
In “Sure Thing” the end of the play shows that taking different positions through the process of dating can be seen as an appropriate option, if interpreting the different versions as acting. In that regard, the play features a happy end achievable through Bill and Betty adapting their positions to suit each other.
On the other hand, in “The Importance of Being Earnest”, the happy end is achievable through the protagonists finally deciding to be who they are, revealing the truth and ending the deception. Although it turned out after all that Jack-Ernest is really Ernest after, it nevertheless emphasized that being oneself is good.
It can be seen that the different approaches in the plays imply the different attitudes toward pretending to be someone else. In that regard, the happy ending with the different approaches taken might emphasize that at certain stages such thing is acceptable, while with the relationship developing further the truth should dominate.
It can be seen that no matter how acting is perceived in both plays, it is inevitable aspect of our lives. In that regard, people might act, showing different versions of them if they are not close to the particular people. However, once the relationship between them develops, the necessity for acting vanishes.
Ives, D. (1993). Sure Thing. In E. Lane (Ed.), Telling tales: new one-act plays (pp. xii, 417 p.). New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Penguin Books.
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Wilde, O. (2006). The Importance of Being Earnest. Gutenberg.org. Web.