A Critical Analysis Of The Play, "Ernest"

1065 words - 4 pages

English Written Task 4* Algernon's commentary on the idle rich.Algernon talks about the "lower" classes and their responsibility or duty to society. In Algernon's following statement, Oscar Wilde has cleverly set the character up to portray the self-righteousness of the Upper Class (to the audience) at the same time as letting him speak his mind about the lower classes. The quote from Algernon regarding classes is very early on in the play; "...Really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them?" (Act 1, Page 296) This implies that Algernon sees no real point in the lower classes except as a people to whom he can be superior, and therefore thinks of them as either a nuisance, or non-existent, and worries only about social matters to do with mainly himself, or higher classed individuals.Another trait of the idle rich is extravagance. In the tenth line of the play, Algernon says, "Why is it that at a bachelors establishment the servants invariably drink the champagne? I ask merely for information." after Lane has told him that the servants have consumed eight bottles of wine. This would seem to be quite a bit of money's worth of wine, and therefore for Algernon to not care about servants having consumed this amount, he must be very rich indeed, which is a reflection of the idle rich' arrogance in wealth and possessions.Finally, through Algernon and his dialogue, Oscar Wilde has portrayed the idle rich to be overly self-confident, or, if you will, cocky. An example of this is in the very first and third line of the play, when Algernon says, "Did you hear what I was playing Lane?" and Lane replies "I didn't think it polite to listen, sir." Finally Algernon states "...I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression."This shows that even though Algernon can't play the piano well, he believes himself to be a great piano player just because he plays with enthusiasm. Such is the arrogance of the idle rich, in this play. Another example of this is when Jack says to Algernon "Well you have no right whatsoever to bunbury here!", (Act 3, Page 340) and Algernon replies, "That is absurd, one has a right to bunbury wherever one chooses, every serious bunburyist knows that." Which shows that Algernon, who represents the idle rich, believes that he is above the normal protocol of society, and has a right to do whatever he pleases.* Language and humour used to construct comedy in the character AlgernonOscar Wilde constructs Algernon to be humorous in a number of ways. Using the same quote as above in paragraph two: "...I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression." This shows that Algernon is very cocky, to the point of being amusing to society, who at the time would not tolerate such manners, except for in cinema.Another way that Algernon makes the audience laugh is his intelligent insight into some unspoken laws of the country at the...

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