Analysis of Humor in the Importance of Being Earnest

1723 WordsMay 7, 20137 Pages
WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT 4 ANALYSIS OF HUMOR IN THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST The Importance of Being Earnest is replete with two elements: pun and paradox. These two are played up immensely to present a very humorous approach to cultural criticism. In essence, it is a satirical comedy on the aristocratic class during the Victorian Era. The text is full of epigrams that expose the characters’ views on lying, marriage, reputation, society, gender, romance and love. Additionally, the play keeps the audience involved by using several paradoxes- including inversions of reality and witty comments. Aristocrats seem to have very skewed notions about marriage. Algernon considers marriage to be a business deal rather than a means to enjoy the…show more content…
At the same time, Cecily believes in being ‘quiet candid’ whenever one has something ‘unpleasant’ to say. How does the play’s humorous dialogue convey misunderstandings between characters that illustrate class and gender differences? Wilde has extensively portrayed the differences in the lifestyles of those of the upper class as compared to the lower classes. The upper class displays great arrogance and hypocrisy and believe that they entitled to rule over the lower classes. The lower classes are a bit more humble. Both, nonetheless, manage to remain quite humorous throughout the play. Algernon also feels that the lower classes must set an example for the upper class when it comes to marriage. This is an inversion of real world thinking. This implies that Algernon feels that the upper class lacks morals- yet he doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. Miss Prism believes that the poor live only for pleasure- and hence keep having children. This is such an absurd viewpoint. She probably perceives the lower class to be a group of idle people, who are busy enjoying life. Lady Bracknell also believes that ‘in families of high position strange coincidences are not supposed to occur.’ Does that mean that strange things can happen only in lower class households? What is the meaning of the word ‘coincidence’ if it cannot happen just about anywhere. It is strange that these upper class characters hold such opinions of the lower classes.
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