Analysis of Humor in the Importance of Being Earnest

1732 WordsMay 16, 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…show more content…
His views on relatives are summarized in these lines: “I love hearing my relations abused. It is the only thing that makes me put up with them at all. Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven't got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die.” These lines show that the upper class cares less about their relations. Algernon’s association with his relatives is solely driven by his greed for their money when they die. In this play, humor is also used to critique society, especially the aristocrats. The biggest social problem of the era is lying to get one’s way. Both Algernon and Jack have conjured fake people in order to get away from social obligations. Both men also lie to Cecily and Gwendolen about matters as unimportant as their names. Algernon also lies to be Jack’s brother in order to meet Cecily. Throughout the play- the characters have lied as and when it pleased them. Though they had to pay the price of lying- it was not a very big deal. This is the general process adopted by Wilde in this play- he critiques society in a way that does not make the play too heavy or serious. Yet he gets his message across. Lady Bracknell is an unabashed racist character that makes rather snide comments about French music to be played at her party. And somehow no character seemed to mind it. Thus one can assume that racism amongst the aristocrats was quite common in those days. Wilde also denounces the
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