An Analysis Of Oscar Wilde S The Importance Of Being Honest

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Chiderah Onyeukwu Professor Daniel Galvin English 213 18 April 2013 Role of Marriage in Importance of Being Earnest The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde’s last and most famous play, debuted in London on February 14, 1895. Throughout the play, one major theme seems to override the others. That theme is the role of marriage; the question of whether marriage as an institution is “pleasant” or “unpleasant” comes up repeatedly. It seems as if every character has a strong stance on the role of marriage and how it affects them, no matter how futile or unreliable that opinion may be. As a whole, The Importance of Being Earnest embodies a complete criticism of the role of marriage, representing both sides of the argument; by taking a…show more content…
I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a very delicate exotic fruit. Touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square” (Newby). The absolute absurdity of these statements effectively makes foolery of Jack’s quest to marry Gwendolyn through the approval of her mother; in comparison, Wilde effectively makes foolery of the social requirements and specifically the rigid structure of the marriage process as a whole. According to Jen Ziegenfuss in her article Marriage in the Victorian Era, there were certain rules that applied to most marriages during the Victorian era. For example, Victorians were encouraged to marry within the same class; marrying into an upper class was acceptable but marrying down meant marrying an inferior, which brought about a certain degree of shame. Wilde touches on this dilemma with another relationship within the play, the relationship between Miss Prism and Doctor Chausable. Miss Prism lives at Jack’s country house and is Cecily’s governess while Doctor Chausable is the rector on Jack’s estate; the two of them harbor romantic feeling for the other that are largely suppressed because of different social classes. As the play goes on, their

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