Satire In 'The Importance Of Being Ernest'

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‘It’s tone is that of satire, but of a satire which, for lack of a moral point of view, has lost its sting’ (Edouard Roditi)
To what extent do you agree with this response to the play?
By Molly Campbell

With the definition of a satire being, ‘the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity’, it is ludicrous to even propose that The Importance of Being Earnest is anything other than a satirical play, as the characters relishing in the upper class of the Victorian period unknowingly mock their own habits acquired to them due to the luxury they are spoilt with. Despite this, it is evident that the use of satire is feckless and lacks a moral point of view, in contrast with the moral …show more content…

Previous to Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Victorian comedies consisted mostly of high and low comedy and of ‘dirty or vulgar jokes, dirty gestures, and sex’. Hence, it is possible to suggest that contradictory to Edouard Roditi’s interpretation, the Importance of Being Earnest carries a moral point of view in the fact it does not exploit sex or sexual preferences to effectuate drollery; Wilde provokes laughter through mistaken identities and the consequences of ‘bunburying’ perhaps to allude that his opinions it that sexuality is not a laughing matter. Providing this interpretation is true, it is acceptable to assume that the reasoning behind the negative criticisms the drama received when first written were due to the fact critics felt appalled that a piece of writing could prove successful without it consisting of any sexual nature and hence deemed The Importance of Being Earnest as, ‘dull in comparison to other plays read over the years’. Howbeit, some critics state that ‘the word "earnest" became a code-word for homosexual, as in: "Is he earnest?", in the same way that "Is he so?" and "Is he musical?" were also employed’, suggesting that The Importance of Being Earnest is an expression of Wilde’s hatred for marriage and his fondness of homosexuality as he praises the idea of being Earnest’. This

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