1. Works of literature are often produced and published to voice perspectives against the socio-economic norms of society. In the Victorian era, many of these non-conforming outlooks were quashed by reigning authorities through motions of literary censorship. In order to evade this government restriction, techniques such as satire were used to deliver these opposing views in a less blatant and humorous way. It was this approach that made Oscar Wilde’s criticism so successful, confronting and above all, insightful. Wilde appealed to an audience’s sense of humour while delivering his critique of society using ridicule. The drama, The Importance of Being Earnest, is one which expresses Wilde’s unique attitudes against the aristocracy of his age. Its biting commentary on the behaviour and nature of the Victorian upper class draws attention to a range of questionable aspects of this society. This critique was motivated by Wilde’s personal place in society, one of internal confinement. His inability to express his homosexuality publically and his opposing attitudes drove the true essence of the play. While it is a critique, the play is equally an outcry against the superficial standards of upper-class society. In the Importance of Being Earnest, the construction of characters and their actions presents a distorted portrayal of Victorian conventions such as gender and marriage. Wilde’s mockery of the prestigious upper class puts these behaviours in an embarrassing spotlight, where the vanity and insincerity of people is exposed. Wilde exaggerates simple situations and over-dramatises character responses to highlight the meaningless behaviours that the Victorian aristocracy valued. Ultimately, one of Wilde’s most esteemed dramas explores a range of trivial and invaluable concepts that the Victorian aristocracy attributed to be defining factors of life. It is Wilde’s ridicule of these seemingly precious virtues that break apart and expose their worthlessness.
In Act 2, Wilde constructs the character’s beliefs and views in an inverted way to their representations of the Victorian aristocracy. Throughout the drama there is a reversal of expectations of different behaviours, perspectives and possessions of power.
Works of literature of often produced and published to voice perspectives against the socio-economic norms of society. Oscar Wilde, a member of the Victorian aristocracy, produced the play, The Importance of Being Earnest (Earnest) to critique the superficial and binding standards of his society. In an age where style and fashion took precedence over sincerity and self-criticism, Wilde attempts to highlight the senselessness of such trivial behaviours. Individuals of the aristocracy rarely challenged the actually value of the moral standards they were bound to. Rather, they mindlessly conformed to the standards they felt required to uphold. Throughout
2. How does Wilde comment on the values and attitudes of his society?