It would be easy for an audience after watching this play to think that it, while enjoyable, has little relevance to modern life. In order to curb such a thought, Ball State University’s director, Michael Daehn, decided to cut certain lines in the script. The original three-act script by Oscar Wilde was very much a satire, a social commentary of British high society. While effective during his time, many of the minor issues raised are specific to that era and culture. To make the play more relevant to a twenty-first century American audience, various case-specific lines were excluded such as those said by Lady Bracknell to Jack Worthing in ACT I:
One successful element Wilde utilizes to deliver his satirical message through to the reader is the use of irony. Sir Robert Chiltern—a character portrayed as an honest, noble man (not only by himself but immensely by his wife) largely involved in politics. As Mrs. Cheveley and Sir Robert Chiltern discuss politics, Chiltern comments how his “political life is a noble career”, yet later in the play, the readers discover the “origin” and “wealth” of Sir Robert’s career—a “letter” sold to Baron Arnheim that withheld confidential state secrets (15). Wilde utilizes this example of verbal and dramatic irony to characterize political corruption and social status in 1895, illustrating how everyone, even the most “noble”, withhold their own shocking secrets. Chiltern, as well as other political gurus of the era, grasp to telling lies make themselves appear merely perfect to any crowd, to solely boost their social status and trustworthiness as a political leader. Politics invents an extremely dangerous game; the
In both works, Oscar Wilde allows the reader to see the ridiculousness of the aristocracy; particular the English ones. His characters are typical Victorian snobs that are arrogant, overly proper, formal, and concerned with money. This reflects the real people he associated with during the Victorian Era, especially when marriages between others were denied due to ambiguous backgrounds. Both literary works also reflect the double life that Oscar Wilde had in his personal
Act III offers happy resolution to the problems of identity and marriage that drive much of the humor in the previous acts. Wilde continues to mock the social customs and attitudes of the aristocratic class. He relentlessly attacks their values, views on marriage and respectability, sexual attitudes, and concern for stability in the social structure.
In the years between 1837-1901, people had a completely new viewpoint separate from the previous era. During this frivolous era, people stressed respect, seriousness, and decency. Although one may think there is nothing wrong with these practices, he or she may not comprehend how intensely the individuals followed their new current traditions. Author Oscar Wilde thoroughly displays just how people during this time period acted in his play The Importance of Being Earnest. Wilde pokes fun at various elements of the Victorian society. To better understand how Wilde’s play made fun of the Victorian society, one must look at the following elements: manners, triviality and immaturity
In the play by Oscar Wilde “The Importance of Being Earnest”, Wilde takes a comedic stance on a melodrama, portraying the duplicity of Victorian traditions and social values as the modernism of the twentieth century begins to emerge. The idea of the play revolves around its title of the characters discovering the importance of being earnest to their individual preferences. The author uses the traditional efforts of finding a marriage partner to illustrate the conflicting pressure of Victorian values and the changing presence of modern thought.
The play, The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde was written in the Victorian Age of England. During this time morality was connected with sexual restraint and strict codes of conduct in public. This play hilariously critiques Victorian moral and social values while the characters in the play try to figure out the meaning of “earnestness”. Wilde uses humor and irony to publicly ridicule the self-aggrandizing attitude of the Victorian upper classes, as well as to expose their duplicity and hypocrisy in regards to their social behaviors.
On that account, another important aspect that the novel brings to our attention is the way in which women were becoming objects of display. Again Blanche’s example epitomizes the upper-class women that Victorian society was encouraging: “Creatures so absorbed in care about their pretty faces, and their white hands, and their small feet”, considered to be their “legitimate appanage and heritage!” (Brontë, 340), that made them give no second thoughts to their role as free, intellectual human beings. These were the expectations of nineteenth-century aristocratic women, and as Brontë clearly points out, Blanche embodies perfectly such qualities that endeavor her to become an object. Her time at Thornfield was never spent with productive activities that would enrich the mind, such as reading or writing, but in idle amusements. Constantly we see how Blanche exhibits her qualities and value through forms of self-display, so as to make herself more attractive to men: “both her words and her air seemed intended to excite not only the admiration, but the amazement of her auditors: she was evidently bent on striking them as something very dashing and daring indeed.” (Brontë, 339)
As this story begins, Mr. Wright has been murdered and his wife the star witness. The evidence is slowly breaking down their so called case. Women of this time period were not treated like men, a woman was only good when she was slaving for her husband and his needs. As Emily Dickinson once wrote “Hope is the thing with feathers/ that perches in the soul/ and sings the tune-without the words, / and never stops at all.” Mrs. Wright used to sing but Mr. Wright did not like that and forced her to a quiet. Mr. Wright was a bitter old man playing a gentleman; never taking a liking to kids he stole her hope for children, leaving her baron in her womb and her heart. He was a control maniac and demanded power in every aspect of this poor woman’s life; No Children, No Song, No Friends; she had nothing, which meant nothing to lose. In Susan Glaspell’s drama, “Trifles”, we explore the gender inequality between men and women of that time and why that has such a large influence on the murder investigation.
Being one of the most famous plays written by Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest is a romantic comedy that makes good use of the conflicts of characters to deal with themes such as marriage, social class and hypocrisy. There are two different types of conflict to drive plot and capture audience attention in a story: internal and external conflict. The former concerns a character’s emotional, moral or ideological dilemma within his own mind; the latter concerns a character’s struggle against an opposing view from another character, society or the nature. In fact, in The Importance of Being Earnest, by increasing the story’s tension and enhancing character development, the internal and external conflicts of Jack Worthing contribute
Elinor Fuchs sees the play as a world that passes in front of the critic in ‘time and space’; one that has elements that must be understood (Fuchs, 2004, p 6). These elements closely resembles Aristotle’s six elements of a play- plot, character, thought, diction, music and spectacle- elements that are clearly identifiable in Oscar Wilde’s 1895 play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’.
In Nineteenth Eighty Four by George Orwell, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the three authors describe how all of the protagonists, Winston, Dorian Gray, and Chris McCandless undergo many circumstances in order to illustrate the impression the protagonists do not know themselves until they successfully pass through the obstacles to find their inner self.
English censorship and criticism of Wilde’s play have been posed for many reasons, in addition to the obvious issues of blatant depravity on stage. In Perverse Midrash: Oscar Wilde, André Gide, and Censorship of Biblical Drama, Katherine Brown Downey claims, ‘Much criticism of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé, both contemporary with it and more recent, suggests that Wilde intended to create a stir with his play, to flout the censor’s rules, and had written
Such as, Marriage, class discrimination, manners and sincerity. Those themes are presented with the Lady Bracknell’s help. Wilde has created, with Augusta Bracknell, a memorable instrument of his satiric wit, questioning all he sees in Victorian upper-class society. With her power and weakness shown, she, as an upper class lady, connects and presents the themes in the play.
The genre of comedy, throughout the history of dramatic art has always served to not only entertain audiences, but to make them aware of their own individual flaws, or flaws that exist in society. (Weitz, E.) Comedy has no precise definition, and its boundaries are broad. One function of comedy however has remained the same - to hold up a mirror to the society of the time but through pleasure, inviting audiences to reflect and also providing amusement. Set in the late nineteenth century, the play An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde (1895) epitomises comedy, as both a literary and dramatic genre. Wilde was masterful in his ability to combine aspects of evolved comedic traditions and dramatic conventions to critique Victorian society. Drawing on characteristics of Greek and Roman tragicomedy, the choices in the play’s plot involves elements of tragedy as well as scenes that serve as comic relief and give the audience a sense of finality through a happy resolution. (Bureman, L) Focussing on the upper class stratum, Wilde employs a comedy of manners Molière style, of the Restoration Period in the seventeenth century in the play by combining forms of comedy with aspects of realist drama. The portrayal of archetypal figures such as Lady Chiltern and Lord Goring satirize rigid moral value of the time and expose their hypocrisies, through dialogue involving irony, wit and humour. Elements of farce and disguises characterized by ‘commedia dell’arte’, a form of comedy first developed in