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Satire in the importance of being earnest essay writer

Mar 31, 2018

There are so many people who are arguing or fighting over issues which don't have much relevance. We must all realise it is not worth it. It's like being in the whirlpools which are always present behind a little rock near a river. We seem to be living in these little whirlpools and forget that there is a whole river. The picture is much bigger. Kalpana Chawla

Realistic fiction is stories about imaginary people and/or events that can actually happen (Cullinan, 1989). The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde may seem realistic but, in fact, it is not. Fictional characters of the Victorian Period and various occasions of ridicule represent nothing but sarcastically mirror the reality of the Victorian society. The characters look humane and world view seems to be based on the Victorian society. Many scenes in the play suggest, with sarcasm, possible situations in the period.

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The Importance of Being Earnest chimes with Abrams’s notion of “realistic fiction” through three themes: the nature of marriage, the restriction of morality, and the lack of earnestness. The nature of marriage has a leading role in developing the plot of The Importance of Being Earnest and is a major debate on whether the reality is “pleasant”. Discussion about the nature of marriage first appears in the opening scene of Algernon and Lane talking about how demoralising marriage can be.

Lane remarks that his marriage was pleasant but has ended because of “a misunderstanding between himself and a younger person” (Wilde, 2006), which might be between him and his younger self or his ex-wife. This reflects the reality that, in the Victorian Period, marriage could be lax and divorce was common. The next question on the nature of marriage emerges when Algernon and Jack have a little disagreement on whether proposing to a woman is “pleasure” or a “business”. “Business” does not describe marriage proposal correctly.

Although the result of a proposal may usually be an acceptance, the process is where it is romantic and hence “pleasure”. Before the marriage proposal, Gwendolen tells Jack that she loves a man called Ernest because she believes the name “inspires absolute confidence” (Wilde, 2006). Even before she knows Ernest, she already has fascination with him. Marriage is thought to be serious and getting married should be thoroughly considered. Gwendolen, however, superficially believes all that is told to her. Satire Lady Bracknell has a list of eligible bachelors in which Jack is not in it.

She questions Jack of how competent he is that she has to consider him based on her assumptions of the nature of marriage. She regards smoking as an “occupation” and knowing nothing as “a delicate exotic fruit” (Wilde, 2006). Apparently, these assumptions make no sense and are sarcasm which the opposites are, in fact, the real, normal requirements, such as occupation and knowledge, for an eligible man (SparkNotes Editors, 2004). Morality in the Victorian Period affected the society and is another theme of dialogues in the play. Jack states that reading a private cigarette case is “ungentlemanly” (Wilde, 2006).

Algernon responds with “it is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read. ” with Wilde’s intention that moral limits how Victorians lose a majority of their freedom due to social practice (Wilde, 2006). The conversation suggests an over-moralised Victorian society which constraints Victorians behaviours. In fact, the book title has already hinted a paradox of being Ernest or earnest. Earnestness, the extent of being sincere (Oxford Dictionaries, 2013), is one of the major sources of Wilde’s satire.

Jack seems to be an earnest man but he uses two names—Jack in the country and Ernest in town. Ernest is the name Jack invented for going to town. Algernon does a similar thing that he creates a dummy called Bunbury for him to go to the country. One does not need en extra name unless they need to control how identities present themselves to different people. When Gwendolen tells him that she loves a man named Ernest, which is indeed Jack, he does not directly tell his true name and later proposed to her by taking advantage of “Ernest”. Earnestness, as mentioned above, is about sincerity.

The Importance of Being Earnest is indeed the importance of not being earnest. Plenty of seriousness in the play denotes the opposite—frivolousness. Algernon hates when meal is not taken seriously by people. He even thinks they are “shallow”. This extreme thought cannot be taken seriously since not being “serious” about meals does not render one superficial. Another apparent example is Gwendolen’s belief of style, but not sincerity, having a great significance. She contradicts herself saying earlier that “Ernest” gives her fascination from its possible notion of sincerity.

Obviously, Gwendolen is not serious about “style” or else she would not have loved Ernest. The Importance of Being Earnest is filled with satire and sarcasm which Wilde used to reflect and criticise the Victorian society. All characters and events themselves in the play look very real. Common readers who do not know the Victorian Period may perceive them to be sophisticated and humane. It is the satire that readers will find world view in the play a reflection of reality rather than plain history. The Importance of Being Earnest supports Abram’s notion of realistic fiction. ?

Satire in The Importance of Being Earnest

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Satire in The Importance of Being Earnest: Oscar Wilde is known for his satire, and The Importance of Being Earnest is no exception to Wilde’s usual mode of satirical writing. The effect of satire will change, however, depending upon the audience, and one of the fascinating things about this play is that the people Wilde satirizes are also the people he expects to be watching the play. Why does Wilde satirize the viewers who will be buying the tickets? What kind of reaction might he be aiming to evoke in his audience? This final project will require you to gather research material, analyze it, evaluate it, and bring it together to act as support for your writing. All options require strong critical engagement with both the focal primary text(s) and with the required peer reviewed sources. General Requirements for the Project: All submissions must: • use 3 peer reviewed sources in addition to whatever primary texts they discuss (and these sources must be used, actually cited, in the essay, not just listed in the works cited at the end) • be 1000-1500 words long • must be original to this class (no resubmissions from other courses are allowed) • be in MLA format and use MLA style citations (see Research and Documentation Online for MLA formatting models; most of you sources will probably need to use the “work from a database” model) BE CAREFUL that you do not create a cut and paste essay of information from your various sources; your ideas are to be the focus of the essay, and the research should only supplement and support your ideas. Also, take great care not to plagiarize; if in doubt, cite the source.

Primary sources are, in literature, the creative works themselves. In the case of this essay, the primary source will be the play about which you are writing. Secondary or critical sources, by contrast, are works that write about primary sources. Secondary sources exist in direct relation to primary sources; without the primary sources, the secondary sources would not be written. Literary secondary sources discuss, argue about, comment on, and so forth one or more primary sources.

The upshot of this is that, for the purposes of this essay, you may not use the primary source (The Importance of Being Earnest) as a secondary source. The three required sources must consist of works that comment on, discuss, argue about, etc. primary sources in some way. Other works of literature will not count toward the three-source requirement.


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