Oscar Wilde is famous for his literary play writing and one of the renowned personality of Aesthetic -movement. The play “How important of being Earnest “, was completed in 1895, belonging to one of the important works of the late Wilde. His writing presents Victorian era and he boldly explains the realistic facts of his society. “His writings are not only loaded with reality but also satire and ironically tells the views about social issues like marriage, education etc., of people from upper class of his era. Wilde use satire in different ways but the most interesting thing is he satirizes the audience of his play as well in means of societal attitudes of upper class. The Importance of Being Earnest” is the important play for audience because it shows the true life, society and culture of upper class Victorians. Wilde satirizes the two-faced society and the attitude of individuals of being earnest.
This play puts great focus on the upper-class and the arrogance of the nobles who put weight on insignificant issues regarding marriage. Like in this play, both Algernon and Jack adopt the character of “Ernest” thus far ironically, however in reality both started their married lives built on dishonesty and deception. The character of Lady Bracknell denotes the typical rich women whose marriage concept grounded on the base on wealth and position instead of love. By farce and hyperbole, Wilde satirically exposes the reality of upper society that only uses irrational and minor things to show their importance in the society. “I certainly won’t leave you so long as you are in mourning. It would be most unfriendly. If I were in mourning you would stay with me, I suppose. I should think it very unkind if you didn’t” (Wilde, 59) As mentioned prior, a satiric writing typically has a didactic face to it. Here, the lesson learns by Lady Bracknell is that she was criticizing one who is from her own blood. The dialogue used in this play contains a decent quality of literally satire that reveals the hypocrisy of upper class and serious viewpoint of morbidity.
Furthermore, satire is practiced highlighting the triviality of Victorian society. The major characters represent the Victorian high society; therefore, the satire that ascends from Wilde’s- exaggeration ranges more than the piece itself. Wilde embellishes food intake, it would seem, a normal non-event. Nevertheless, Wilde presents such a typically mundane event as an emotionally exciting experience. Every time food is introduced into a scene, the character also experiences emotions, which is unconventional over time.
Additionally, Wilde practices satire to ridicule the social rules of marriage love and attitude both were very unyielding during that era. Since it practices satire to ridicule attitude pf such important institutions, and it illustrates the nonconformity from the class structure by creating ridiculous concepts and values, standards and behaviors. In trying to fix the defects of the characters in the play, “How important of being Earnest”, this segment too helps as a prodigious arrangement of criticism. “The play truly owes something to the rebuilding comic tradition under the blanket of satire” (Kreuz& Roberts 97).
Wilde uses different forms of satire in his play like there are examples of gender based satire for example the audience find out that only males can have a Bunburry. However, in reality it is wrong and expresses that male contemplate themselves more cultured than females. Another example of same kind of satire used in this play is that female marries a man only for a name. this is the way Wilde uses his satire to attack audience because it ridicules females for being low. Another time, he is satirizing the concept of marriage, is not grounded on love, but on superficial standards. “While in this play, the satirize is in the arrogance of the aristocrats, however Oscar still carries over the point that equally Gwendolen and Cecily may have rejected to wed the ‘men of their dreams’ if their names weren’t ‘Ernest”( Bashford 53)
Additionally, there are numerous illustrations of satire regarding class. One of the primary is the ‘fact’ that the street tells about the nobility and status of person this is satire because it is very superficial thing and it just shows the attitude of high class that they have about upper class. One more example of satire is the concept that sugar is for masses and low-class people uses it. Next example of satire that is class oriented is that people from noble class at all times converse about other individual’s business that is not good in terms of privacy. So, the people from upper class seems churlish and not permitting for another individual’s privacy. “Earnest, argues that how snobby and shallow Oscar Wilde understood upper class individuals” ( McCormack73).
Wilde similarly satirizes ethics and narrow thinking of Victorian culture. Algernon ponders that lower class has a duty to establish and maintain a moral standard for the upper class. He speaks: “Truly, if the lower orders don`t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them?’’(Wilde 254). But, Wilde is not interesting to debate or classify between moral and not moral. He only wants to display the absurdity of society and satirizes the entire concept of Victorian culture as a harsh ethics or rules for the people to stay and become part of that society.
Another satire is related to the obsession that he displays among his characters related to money. For example, Lady Bracknell inquires Jack about Cecily’s wealth and become very satisfied after knowing that she had a good amount of money, “Oh! about 130-thousand pounds in the Reserves”. (Wilde 304). She instantly changes her views about Cecily and says: “ Limited girls of the now have any solid potentials, any of the abilities that last, and progress with time“. (Wilde 304). She is in fact denoting to these few girls who have money. it is ironic and shows the mastery of Wilde presenting satire in beautiful way. The title of this play submits a thesis on the importance of seriousness in our life. But, Wilde’s way of satire totally changed the concept of play from being earnest to non-earnest.
Bashford, Bruce. ““Even Things That Are True Can Be Proved”: Oscar Wilde on Argument.”
Philosophy and Oscar Wilde. Palgrave Macmillan US, 2017. 53-71.
Kreuz, Roger J., and Richard M. Roberts. “On satire and parody: The importance of being
ironic.” Metaphor and Symbol 8.2 (1993): 97-109.
McCormack, Jerusha. “Oscar Wilde: As Daoist Sage.” Philosophy and Oscar Wilde.
Palgrave Macmillan US, 2017. 73-104.
Wilde, Oscar. Importance of Being Earnest (Legend Classics). Legend Press, 2017.