Racism and Sexism are Ugly Words in Oscar Wilde's Play, The Importance of Being Earnest

877 Words 4 Pages
Racism. Sexism. Ugly words with a single common thread—the all too human flaw of judging others based solely on outward appearances. Although this flaw can be found in every culture and era, Victorian England perfected it into an art form. Wealthy, fashionable, powerful and highly hypocritical, appearances were everything. As stated by Gwendolyn Fairfax in the play The Importance of Being Earnest, “Style, not sincerity, is the vital thing” (783). And it is this play, written by Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, which mocks and exposes the carefully constructed façade of British high society. As with any play, though, The Importance of Being Earnest has two settings: then and now. The challenge for the production team at Ball State University …show more content…
Racism. Sexism. Ugly words with a single common thread—the all too human flaw of judging others based solely on outward appearances. Although this flaw can be found in every culture and era, Victorian England perfected it into an art form. Wealthy, fashionable, powerful and highly hypocritical, appearances were everything. As stated by Gwendolyn Fairfax in the play The Importance of Being Earnest, “Style, not sincerity, is the vital thing” (783). And it is this play, written by Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, which mocks and exposes the carefully constructed façade of British high society. As with any play, though, The Importance of Being Earnest has two settings: then and now. The challenge for the production team at Ball State University was to center the play on a theme relevant to both settings. The theme that they chose hearkens back to the debate of whether style or sincerity is “the vital thing,” and votes in favor of sincerity. It argues that there is a core of humanity common to every culture, race, gender and era that is unchanged by superficial trappings of society. The theme of an inner common heart unchanged by superficial appearances is evident in three different areas of Ball State University’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest: the lighting cues at the end of each act in contrast with the lavish set, the director’s cut of certain parts of the script and the heart of each character in contrast with the overall exaggerated facial expressions. The
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