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 Wilde in his plat portrays marriage in the Victorian Era as arranged for the upper class. Lady Bracknell is not ready to give her daughters hand in marriage to Earnest because of his social class and because he told her that he was found in a Victorian railroad station and has no idea who his biological parents are. Oscar Wilde explores the topic of marriage at length in his play. Marriage is a primary force motivating the plot of the play and a subject of speculation. The debate in the play is to whether marriage is pleasant or unpleasant.
It is obvious in the play that the theme of marriage is evident. This theme continues through the play evident from Act 1 whereby Earnest Worthing announces to his best friend Algernon Moncrieff that he was going to ask for his Cousin Gwendolen Fairfax’s hand in marriage. He proposes to Gwendolen and she enthusiastically accepts but only with a man named Earnest and not Jack which was Earnest Worthing’s real name. Her mother is against it and she puts it very clear to Gwendolen that her engagement can only be informed to her through her and her father and she is not engaged to anyone. She says “Pardon me, you are not engaged to anyone. When you do become engaged to someone I, or your father, should his health permit him will inform you of the fact. An engagement should come on to a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could arrange herself…” (1606). Scar Wilde through Lady Bracknell portrays the way marriage was viewed and arranged in the Victorian Era. It was not about love but about social class and also it was an arranged marriage.
Throughout his play The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde explores the marriage idea as a social tool. Lady Bracknell was married into a high society with class and she also wanted her daughter Gwendolen to have an equally subtle marriage by marrying someone from an upper social class. Many marriages in the Victorian Era were arranged and there is no way Gwendolen could get married to a stranger who her parents have not approved. Parents getting involved in the approval of marriages depending on a suitor’s wealth and social class were an obstacle in the marriage in Oscar Wilde’s play. Oscar was trying to depict that marriage in the Victorian Era was for political and social reasons other than for love and affection as it should be. Lady Bracknell asks Jack about parents, fortune, address, family solicitors, politics, expectations and legal impediments. All she wanted to...