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A Question Of Using A Wild Setting With Wilde's Work

1612 words - 6 pages

Playwrights use drama as a tool that links reality and imagination. Oscar Wilde'sThe Importance of Being Ernest isn't an exception, and his use of the contemporary setting in London 1895 cleverly assists in delivering this quality. This use of the setting is important in a production. It often allows the audiences to identify with the characters performing on stage, understand the humor introduced in the play, and reflect upon reality. An Ancient Egyptian setting can enhance entertainment qualities and correspond well with some aspects of the play; however, there also exists many other parts that don't work well with the suggested setting. A comparison with a setting of Ancient Egypt reveals that the play achieves more by using the original setting.Setting the play in Ancient Egypt, at a first glance, seems to be an ideal choice. The play could be specifically set for the Old Kingdom period in Egypt around 2500 B.C. Adorned with elaborate costumes and props, the performance will successfully achieve its goal as an entertainment. The stage decoration can create a mysterious atmosphere of a foreign city. Since the Great Pyramids were built during this period, the set could have the view of the pyramids in the distance as well (Baines). This visual effect will provide a sense of satisfaction to the audience by letting them indirectly experience the Egyptian lifestyle. Attending this dramatic performance will provide a substitute for a costly and time-consuming travel. It allows for the same exciting experience of exploring the aspects of a distant place without spending much time or other valuable resources.The servants in the play could also be turned into slave figures for the Egyptian setting. They will indicate the status of other characters that are members of a high-class society, and also play a crucial role as comical figures. Throughout the play, the servants are seen as a source of mockery and are constantly being ridiculed. This trait becomes evident even at an earlier stage of the play, when Algernon rejects his butler Lane's personal life as a topic of their conversation. He declares that servants "seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility" (Wilde 437). Here, Algernon's degrading remark creates humor by letting the audiences feel superior to the characters. The audiences may agree with Algernon's view and feel superior to the servants, or they might feel noble and superior to Algernon by not sharing his arrogant remark. Whichever the view one may have, as a target of ignorance and verbal abuse, the servant figures are crucial elements of the play that should not be overlooked. Therefore, the fact that the servant characters can be presented easily is a great advantage of using the Egyptian setting.The setting's ability to successfully deliver the central storyline involving Jack and Gwendolen's marriage is even more important, compared to its smooth placement of minor characters in the plot. Since the Ancient...

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