Hypocrisy Of The Aristocracy In The Importance Of Being Earnest By Oscar Wilde

1680 words - 7 pages

Oscar Wilde satires the hypocrisy and stupidity2 of the strict Victorian aristocracy through the characters in The Importance of Being Earnest. It can be argued that the women of the play usurp the masculine power and this itself is what makes up the comedy as it would have been humorous to a patriarchal audience. Lady Bracknell is the archetypal of the absolute height of a society woman while both Gwendolyn and Cecily’s characters show potential of rivaling this type of power in the future. Arguably, Lady Bracknell is the character who exerts the most power and authority throughout the play. In this sense, the character’s social position within the upper class enables her to usurp the ...view middle of the document...

Her opinions and mannerism portrays ‘a careful and calculate speaking pattern’3 that further proves Wilde’s suggestion. The lexis of ‘strongly’, ‘a definite effort’ and ‘produce’ creates a demanding tone indicating that the character should be performed in a pompous manner. This would help enable the performer to achieve witty social repartee around the other characters by creating a sense of authority. As a result, it can overrule the masculine power of the play to a high extent.
Lady Bracknell’s social discriminations are enforced through her behavior.3 The character excludes those such as Jack who do not fit into her view of the upper class because he ‘formed an alliance with a parcel’. Jack turning out to be Lady Bracknell’s nephew is an example of one of the ironic inversions8 used in the play and a large part of the humour comes from this technique because the playwright inverts the audience’s expectation. Russell Jackson highlighted Lady Bracknell’s ‘mercenary approach to life’1 which supports the idea that Wilde is portraying how fashionable Victorian society was. Marriage and money are an important factor that Lord Bracknell is supposedly to take care of however he is unable as his wife states ‘should his health permit’. This puts Lady Bracknell in the role of the husband which undermines the masculine power in the play although it is ironic how she manages to usurp this as her morals are very patriarchal. On the other hand, the careful and calculated speaking pattern may suggest otherwise as she admits that she ‘had no fortune of any kind’ before marrying Lord Bracknell. Unlike Algernon who means to be witty, the humor in Lady Bracknell’s pronouncements is unintentional and this could be because Oscar Wilde embedded some truth in her words. The play is categorized under the title The Comedy of Manners so techniques such as speaking patterns are essential in creating an authoritarian woman figure which would’ve been greatly comedic to the Victorian upper-class audience. Furthermore, Wilde solidifies our view of Lady Bracknell further when she stated that poverty ‘did not stand in my way’. This gives the character a masculine tone of determination, suggesting that the character is cunning and very clever in her knowledge of the social scale as she had experienced belonging in more than one social class. The playwright is attempting to portray how even within the upper class group, social climbers are still present. To a certain extent it can be said that although Lady Bracknell owns patriarchal views, she has the most knowledge in the values, morals and the functioning of the aristocracy.
Wilde provides the audience with the idea of the emergence of the ‘New Woman’ by providing two female characters who may lack Lady Bracknell’s ruthlessness, but have the strength and practical sense that the men lack.5 We know that Gwendolyn is opinionated and shows self-confidence through the constant use of personal pronouns in phrases such as ‘I am...

Find Another Essay On Hypocrisy of the Aristocracy in The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Satirical Comments in The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

1160 words - 5 pages The class system during the Victorian Period played a significant role on people’s lives. The class a person belonged to played an important role in that individual’s future. In Victorian England, class diversity and class placement either hindered or enhanced people’s lives. One work of literature that comments on class distinctions in Victorian England is “The Importance of Being Earnest”, by Oscar Wilde. In “The Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde V/S "The Importance of Being Earnest"

1265 words - 5 pages IWhen analyzing Oscar Wilde’s work within the context of Victorian times, I can assure that this author was the most important transgressor of his time. Oscar Wilde defied normal standards and created works of art that criticized his reality, but with a touch of glamour and style that cautioned the audiences in those and nowadays. The importance of being Earnest produces these glamorous scenes full of wit and style, reproducing Victorian

"The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde: Algernon Montcrieff - A Character Analysis

1329 words - 5 pages to face the full consequences of his actions.Every artist is said to put a piece of themselves into their work, and this is especially true for Oscar Wilde in his work The Importance of Being Earnest. The character of Algernon holds particular significance for the embodiment of one's self in one's work. Algernon's double life can be seen as the central metaphor in the play, epitomized in his creation of "Bunbury" or "Bunburying" and clearly

Exploring Social Class in Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe and The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

1673 words - 7 pages undermines the values and conventions of the savages. The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde is a comedy, and this is important because in Poetics, by Aristotle, comedy is defined as ' an imitation, of characters of a lower type, not however, in the full sense of the word bad, the ludicrous being merely a subdivision of the ugly. It consists in some defect or ugliness which is not painful or destructive'. It is therefore the aim of a

Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest

588 words - 2 pages In “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde, humor functions through the use of Characterization and the social satire of the Victorian period. Characterization is the method an author uses to reveal or describe characters and their various personalities. Satire is a literary tone used to ridicule or make fun of human vice or weakness, often with the intent of correcting, or changing, the subject of the satirical attack. These two

Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest

1823 words - 7 pages In Oscar Wilde’s satire, The Importance of Being Earnest, he engages the audience with a profound amount of conflicting dialogue starting with the title. The importance of being Ernest is quite a different meaning than the importance of being earnest. Wilde demonstrates a considerable amount of wit to unfold the importance of being both Ernest and earnest. The play centers on a young man named Jack, who incidentally has created an alter ego

Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest

3042 words - 12 pages Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde is a legendary author who has composed many great plays including The Green Carnation and A Woman of No Importance, however, The Importance of Being Earnest was undoubtedly the most famous of his works. First published in 1930, yet acknowledged since the late 1800s, The Importance of Being Earnest helped to revive the theater tradition of Congreve and Sheridan. The story is a

A Tale Of Three Classes. A Marxist Criticism on 'The Importance of Being Earnest' by Oscar Wilde

1396 words - 6 pages as the play 'The Importance of Being Earnest' by Oscar Wilde. In this play Wilde display's the class structure with a different and interesting twist. He makes a reflection on the society with his own sense of humor, but however it still leaves a very good opportunity to make a Marxist critique about the way the class structure influences the play. He leaves room for these critiques when he writes about the servants, the nobles, and the middle

Compare how settings and societies are essential to the mood in 'The Great Gatsby' by F Scott Fitzgerald and 'The Importance of Being Earnest' by Oscar Wilde

2916 words - 12 pages Oscar Wilde's 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and F Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' are set in different historical and cultural contexts. However, there are common themes and moods that both writers create within these different settings to help convey their social comments. But there are also some important differences in how mood is created and in the themes presents to the readers and audiences. This exploration of the moods created

Portrayal of Pride, ego and manipulation in Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare and The Importance of being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

2664 words - 11 pages and ego was used against him to humiliate him.We have also seen how disguise has been used to manipulate people in this comedy. But, the one that stands out is the gulling of Malvolio which shows that you should never be proud or egotistical.THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNESTIn this play written by Oscar Wilde, pride is shown most appropriately. Oscar Wilde uses pride to describe the society of that period. He tries to show that people married among

Brahm Stoker and Oscar Wilde: Sexual and Social Identity in "Dracula" and "The Importance of Being Earnest"

1990 words - 8 pages Stoker and Wilde conveyed one main shared view through "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "Dracula": that Victorian society feared the expression of true sexual and social identity.Oscar Wilde was a homosexual author during the Victorian time period that used his characters as tools to show how society suppressed sexual and social identities. In "The Importance of Being Earnest", Wilde makes evident through characters such as Jack and Gwendolyn the

Similar Essays

Play: The Importance Of Being Earnest, By Oscar Wilde

1219 words - 5 pages Marriage in The Importance of Being Earnest The Importance of Being Earnest is a play by Oscar Wilde. Oscar describes his play as A Trivia comedy for serious people. The protagonists in the play maintains being fictitious in order to escape burdensome social obligations. The play is lighthearted with flippant comments and offhand jokes, however the play contains serious undertones and social commentary about marriage and the society. Oscar

The Importance Of Being Earnest, By Oscar Wilde

1454 words - 6 pages In The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde revealed that animalistic traits can tint a character’s intellectual attributes. All of the characters possess an overwhelming desire which seems to diminish their morality. Wilde uses Jack Worthing’s animalistic behaviors to reveal that his animal self is damaging his intellectual self. The play is presented to show that the characters retain an exaggerated pleasure with food, which shows their

The Importance Of Being Earnest By Oscar Wilde

1169 words - 5 pages The Importance of Being Earnest was one of Wilde’s Victorian melodramas. There are plenty elements of satire, intellectual travesty, a comic take on Victorian manners and an appealing superficial-ness that makes it a light comedy. Behind this charade of humor though lie deeper, more serious undertones. The play is a take at the extreme hypocrisy and cloying moralism’s that were distinct marks of the Victorian era. In Act I of The Important of

Matriarchal Figures In The Importance Of Being Earnest By Oscar Wilde And Persuasion By Jane Austen

2761 words - 11 pages Matriarchal Figures in The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde and Persuasion by Jane Austen ‘A dominant female member of the family’[1] is often described as a matriarch. Lady Bracknell in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ and Lady Russell in ‘Persuasion’ fulfill this role therefore can be described as matriarchs, and as such they play vital roles. They affect the lives of Gwendolen and Anne, by imposing their beliefs on them