Puns in the Importance of Being Ernest

1768 Words May 22nd, 2011 8 Pages
Wilde uses puns throughout this play, but the major pun is found within the title. In The Importance of Being Earnest, the pun, widely considered to be the lowest form of verbal wit, is rarely just a play on words. The title,
- The Importance of Being Earnest,- insinuates the importance of being honest and truthful, while playing on the male name, Ernest. The pun in the title is a case in point. The earnest/Ernest joke strikes at the very heart of Victorian notions of respectability and duty. Gwendolen wants to marry a man called Ernest, and she doesn’t care whether the man actually possesses the qualities that comprise earnestness. She is, after all, quick to forgive Jack’s deception. In embodying a man who is initially neither
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Aristocracy does not see marriage as an organ of love but rather as a tool for achieving a sustaining social stature.

Act I, scene 1,

Puns are also used during the conversation between Algernon and Jack in town. To accuse Algernon a liar just like dentists who lies about cavities, Jack has said,
-“My dear Algy, you talk exactly as if you were a dentist. It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn’t a dentist. It produces a false impression”. This is very funny because we can see that Jack is also lying about his brother, but he is judging Algernon as if he is a very honest person.

Later, when Jack reveals all his truth about the name Ernest, Algernon responds by saying:
Algernon: “What you really are is a Bunburyist. You are one of the most advanced Bunburyist I know.
… “Besides now that I know you to be a confirmed Bunburyist, I naturally want to talk to you about Bunburying. I want to tell you the rules.

This is very funny, because Algernon is trying to be honest to Jack about advising him of an action that in fact is itself dishonest and false. The pun is when Algernon thinks that Jack deserves to be advised and learn the rules, since he turned out to be a real Bunburyist, even the most advanced one. This is very ridiculous! As if Jack was discovered to be a man with high principles or qualities.

Act I, scene 1

Algernon: “You must be
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