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“The Importance of Being Earnest” by O. Wilde Analysis Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Sep 10th, 2021

Introduction

Oscar wide has been depicted as having been one of the most successful, poets/playwrights of late Victorian era England. The Victorian era was a period in time of the height of the industrial revolution as well as being the climax of the British Empire. During this time, the works of Oscar Wilde were very popular and everyone always wanted to know what was in the stores.

The importance of being earnest

Importance of being earnest is a play by playwright Oscar Wilde. The plays’ setting is Victorian England. It was first performed in 1895 in London at the ST James theatre. It is a comedy and much of the humor arising from the main characters’ younger brother Ernest.

The play has been regarded as one of Oscar Wilde’s greatest pieces of art. In this play, Wilde makes a scathing attack on the upper social classes during the late Victorian era. The play depicted by reviewers as a manners comedy uses simple irony and sarcasm to drive the point home. By using names that closely resemble the character’s behavior, Wilde uses an indirect approach to his subject. As a result, wilde presents the play in form of three acts that represent different settings. Wildes’s critique of the upper class is represented especially by using names like Bracknell and prism. In addition, the upper class’s despise for the lower class is represented throughout the play. This is especially represented when Bracknell realizes that her daughter Gwendolen was about to marry an orphan who according to her is like “to marry into a cloakroom and form an alliance with the parcel”.

To portray his message wilde takes a simple example and forms a scene that mostly revolves around a young man Algernon. in addition the play indirectly revolves around the theme of earnest. The plot sees Algernon as a young Londoner. This young man pretends to have a friend in the country that is often sick called Bunbury. As a result, the young man finds excuses to go and see his friend occasionally whenever he wants to run away from his social obligations. Interestingly this act of running away from his responsibilities Algernon has called it Bunburrying. In real life, the young Algernon’s’ real friend is called Ernest who happens to make frequent visits to London.

Without the knowledge of Algernon Ernest whose real name is jack is also unburying. On the other side, jack is also Bunburrying to try to escape the 18-year-old heiress, Cecily since he is interested in marrying Gwendolen, Algernon’s cousin. The problem is that Gwendolen loves jack because she believes his name is Ernest. In addition, lady Bracknell, Gwendolen’s mother is not in favor of the relationship. In the ensuing drama, Algernon feels so much for Cecily that he wishes to meet her against jack’s opposition. The meeting is later arranged. Algernon visits jack upcountry as the little brother Ernest. However, jack having given up his Bunburrying announces to Cecily’s governess that his younger brother is dead. By this, time Cecily who had all along imagined being in love with Ernest is all over him with love. By the time the two brothers meet is dressed in black as he mourns the other.

Before the confusion could settle down Gwendolen arrives wishing to be with her love. A tussle ensues as the two ladies fight out for Ernest. Shortly after Gwendolen’s mother arrives in pursuit of her daughter only to find the confusion. As these people argue out Cecily’s governess prim and her secret lover arrive with her secret lover chasuble. Surprisingly Bracknell and prism recognize each other and they both remember that prism had lost a child in a handbag while working as a maid for Cracknel’s sister.

After this is revealed, jack produces the identical bag and thus it is realized that indeed he is Algernon’s elder brother. Once this is resolved, there is still the problem of jack’s real name. His mother tells him that she cannot remember but it was the name of his father who was a military general. Jack researches for his father’s name only to be relieved when he realizes that it is indeed Ernest. Ernest is filled with joy as he can now claim his love. As the happy couple embraces, Bracknell turns to her nephew and says, “My nephew, you seem to be displaying signs of triviality.” Wilde(1990) only for Algernon to turn and replies “On the contrary, Aunt Augusta,” Ernest replies, “I’ve now realized for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest.” Wilde (1990)

References

Oscar, Wilde. The Importance of Being Earnest, England: Courier Dover Publications, 1990

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