The Importance of Being Earnest Play/Film Comparitive Essay

1443 Words Apr 16th, 2008 6 Pages
The Importance of Being Earnest
Play/Film Comparative Essay

Oliver Parker’s (2002) film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is sadly completely consumed by the romantic comedy style, masking Wilde’s key concerns and detracting from important comic elements of the play. This can be observed through the varying representations of characters, the film’s lack of contextual jokes, the more prominent sub-plot between Dr Chasuble and Miss Prism, the addition of music and the way in which dialogue, while remaining true to the play, has lost meaning in the film.

In the play, Wilde achieves most of his humour through the wonderfully satiric characters, however in the film Parker represents them as being far more
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In the present context many of Wilde’s contextual jokes in the play may not be as humorous in the present context, thus it is understandable why Parker has placed more emphasis on the farcical jokes, which would appeal to a wider audience. When Wilde wrote the play it was at a time when literature was becoming more widely available for all citizens, wealthy or poor. This gave Wilde room to write as he did, making a mockery of the upper class, as the lower class would enjoy it. However that was over a century ago, and in the modern context people may not find this as relevant or quite as amusing. However, the farcical elements of the play, such as the plot, are the kind of jokes that can be understood in either context. Therefore, Parker has not focused on the contextual jokes, and instead on the farcical jokes. It is the farce nature of the plot that Parker has constructed his romantic comedy around. While this enables the film to be appreciated by a wider audience, it no longer embodies Wilde’s criticisms of the upper class, which was the crux of Wilde’s play. However, Parker not only stops at one overembellished farcical plot, but he does the same with an extended sub-plot.

In Parker’s film adaptation, his emphasis of the sub-plot between Dr. Chasuble and Miss Prism, while becoming more entertaining, further detracts from Wilde’s concerns and only serves to strengthen the film as a romantic comedy. In Wilde’s play, Chasuble and Prism’s