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Of Being Earnest In Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest

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Being “earnest” is impossible in Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest. Earnestness is more often equated with sincerity. Sincerity or earnestness is not only displayed in the title but it is the main theme of Wilde’s work and using satire, the playwright shows the hypocrisy of the morally upstanding, and the inability of the upper and middle class of Victorian England to be earnest. When one thinks of the Victorian English period, the word prudish might come to mind. According to Victorian-era.org, “the Victorian era is often thought of as a time when society and its rules were rigid and strict,” and the values of the period ranged from honesty and a sense of duty to hard work and sexual propriety. In comparing the Victorian Era with The Importance of Being Earnest written in a religious England, we can see how Oscar Wilde’s work regarding the insincerity of its characters came to be considered satirical. The main character John “Jack” Worthington is the best example of the Victorian sense of morality. Jack has a strong sense of duty towards his ward Cecily, his home and his servants, yet morally he is a reprehensible character. In creating his fictitious brother Ernest, Jack is able to make visits to the city in Ernest’s place and lead a double life while his own persona’s respectability remains intact. When Algernon learns that Jack is leading a double life he says “Besides, now that I know you to be a confirmed Bunburyist I naturally want to talk to
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