Hw Oscar Wilde Pokes Fun at the Attitudes and Etiquette of the British Aristocracy

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Hw Oscar Wilde Pokes Fun at the Attitudes and Etiquette of the British Aristocracy

Oscar Wilde presents a very candid impression of Victorian society and its values in The Importance of Being Earnest. The title itself represents the irony of the play. The word earnest works on two levels - first the name Ernest, which is the main focus of the play, and also it sounds like honest which is exactly what Jack and Algernon - the two main characters of the play - are not.

There are four main themes which can be recognised in the play: social snobbery, money matters, appearance matters and false values and lastly, not being sincere. In this essay I intend to focus on each category to highlight the
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In Act Three Lady Bracknell proves her place in the upper class whilst criticising Algernon. She tells him, 'Never speak disrespectfully of society…only people who can't get into it do that,' so really she is saying that she and he are both 'in', but he is not acting like it as she is. Algernon himself views the lower class as only having one use - to set good examples. At the beginning of Act One he says to himself 'If the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility.' When Jack arrives he patronises Algernon on speaking like a dentist. This shows that they didn't have a very high opinion of dentists in Victorian times - 'You talk exactly as if you were a dentist. It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn't a dentist.' Later on in the scene he says 'From motives of respect that you could not possibly appreciate.' This proves that he views himself as superior to Algernon. Also in this scene, university students are spoken of quite highly. Algernon, when speaking of literature says to Jack to leave it to '…who haven't been at a University.They do it so well in the papers,' so the upper class must respect people who attend university more than those who haven't.

The characters in The Importance of Being Earnest are greatly infatuated

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