Importance of Being Earnest: Dinner is Served Essay

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Food is the world’s safe house. Primarily, food is what keeps the body in working order. Behind the scenes, food creates an industry that is incomparable to any other. From diners to fishermen, and from bakeries to slaughterhouses, food is known by all. Oscar Wilde takes this universal knowledge of food to create the compelling social satire known as “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Wilde cleverly brings readers into a new world of secrecy, fantasy, and power through the need to eat. With the onset of the “New Woman” era, Oscar Wilde uses food to introduce his humourously repulsed opinion on the freedom of women, while alluding to the struggle of being accepted in this previously unheard of society. In the opening pages of “The…show more content…
Lane! Why are there no cucumber sandwiches? I ordered them specially.
LANE [gravely]: There were no cucumbers in the market this morning, sir. I went down twice.
ALGERNON: No cucumbers!
LANE: No, sir, not even for ready money. (p.1028, Act I)
Lady Bracknell’s character represents the “New Woman” and clearly Algernon has to overcome any obstacle to please her. Lane, as the servant, a lower class citizen, acknowledges the hierarchy and aids Algernon in response. Wilde also wrote the scene where Algernon eats the entire plate of cucumber sandwiches as a sign of rebellion against the supreme woman figure. Algernon feared the consequences, and as a result concealed the truth. The cucumber sandwiches symbolize the need to be accepted within society and its commodities. Wilde devises the cucumber sandwich discussion to provide insight regarding the power shift from men to women at this time. A power struggle often arises as aspects of society change. With feminism entering the limelight, one predicts there to be uproar from the male gender. Unexpectedly, In Act II, the cattiness is unleashed when Cecily and Gwendolen discover they share lovers. As one of the most comedic events in “The Importance of Being Earnest,” this scene contains hidden symbols. Drama climaxes as snacks are being served with these statements:
CECILY: May I offer you some tea, Miss Fairfax?
GWENDOLEN [with elaborate politeness]: Thank you. [Aside.] Detestable girl!
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