Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest
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In Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest there are many different forms of comedy used throughout the play. Wilde uses examples of Low comedy, Farce, Comedy of Manners, and Comedy of Ideas. Many of Oscar Wilde’s Humoristic comments and examples are still relevant and it’s been over a hundred years.
Throughout the book Wilde shows many examples of Low Comedy. One example of Low Comedy being showed is when Gwendolen gets a tattoo of Jacks name, but she really thinks his name is Earnest. This is in Low Comedy because it would be considered dirty and makes you laugh the most. I would consider that a mishap and that is in the Low Comedy section. Another example of Low Comedy is when Algy says that all women turn out like their mothers. I would consider this low comedy because it makes you laugh the most. The third example of Low Comedy is the old people crushing on each other. This is an example of Low Comedy because it makes you laugh a little and Low Comedy does that.
There are also many examples of Farce in the play. One example of Farce is the whole situation when the girls mistake each other’s boyfriends’ identities and get mad at each other. This is an example of Farce because a mistaken identity is a category in Farce. Another example of Farce is when Algy and Jack get caught lying by the girls and as the girl’s storm off Algy decides to start stuffing his face with muffins. This is considered Farce because this is very bad timing to start eating muffins and mistimings are in the Farce category. The third example of Farce in the play is how Jack is separated from everyone when he is a child. Its considered Farce because being separated at birth from siblings is a device of Farce.
Comedy of Manners is the most used level of comedy in the play. An example of Comedy of Manners is that Jack and Algy are actually brothers. This is an irony because they always pretend to be brothers and irony is part of Comedy of Manners. The next example of Comedy of Manners is Jacks name being Earnest in the end. This is also irony therefore it is in the Comedy of Manners. Another example of Comedy of Manners is when the girls aren’t talking to the guys after they find out that they’ve been lying. This is Comedy of Manners because it shows that the girls are stubborn and unite after disliking each other. The last example of Comedy of Manners is when Gwen asks Algy if he knows everything or nothing and he says nothing. She says good because that means he didn’t mix with other classes to get educated. This is Comedy of Manners because shows that all people care about are class status.
The last level of comedy is Comedy of Ideas. The first example of Comedy of idea is when Lady Bracknell suddenly agrees to Cecily and Jacks wedding because Jack is wealthy. This is Comedy of Ideas because it shows Lady Bracknell is capable of change. Another example is Jack having no parents at first. This is Comedy of Ideas because it shows an individual conflict in Jack. The last example of Comedy of Ideas is why Lady Bracknell didn’t like Jack in the first place. It was because he wasn’t the same social class as she was and less wealthy. This is Comedy of Ideas because it shows Lady Bracknell’s true personality and that she only cares about social status.
Wilde’s message in this book is showing how there really is no importance to being Earnest in the world. There are so many lies throughout the play and people obviously don’t care about morals enough to stop. The importance of being earnest in today’s society is that it will keep you out of trouble most of the time. I don’t believe there is a huge emphasis on being honest in today’s society because the world is so cut throat that people will do anything to gain the upper hand. I think that Wilde doesn’t really make a big deal out of marriage in his play but in the real world today it is a big deal. So I don’t think that his commentary on marriage is very applicable to today’s society. Most of Wilde’s humoristic comments are relevant over a hundred years later today because much of what he says still makes people laugh and see the comedy in what he writes.