George Canninge The Marquess of Queensberrythe father of Wilde's lover Lord Alfred Douglas who was on holiday in Algiers at the timehad planned to disrupt the play by throwing a bouquet of rotten vegetables at the playwright when he took his bow at the end of the show. Wilde and Alexander learned of the plan, and the latter cancelled Queensberry's ticket and arranged for policemen to bar his entrance. Nevertheless, he continued harassing Wilde, who eventually launched a private prosecution against the peer for criminal libeltriggering a series of trials ending in Wilde's imprisonment for gross indecency.
He ridiculed Victorian values most particularly in The Importance of Being Earnest, probably his most popular work.
Turning on the play of words in the title, the drama also satirizes the very idea of earnestness, a virtue to which the Victorians attached the utmost significance. To work hard, to be sincere, frank, and open, and to live life earnestly was the Victorian ideal. Wilde not only satirizes hypocrisy and sham virtue, he also mocks its authentic presence.
Wilde mocked the high society of his time, and he paid a high price for it. Although Wilde was married and the father of two children, he, like many apparently heterosexual men, also had sex with men, a not unusual situation in late-nineteenth century England. However, because British law held homosexual acts to be criminal, once Wilde lost his suit alleging slander, the door opened for criminal proceedings against him.
The first trial ended in a hung jury, but Wilde was immediately tried again, found guilty, and sentenced to two years hard labor.
After serving the full sentence, he went at once to France. He did not set foot again on English soil, and he died in Paris two years later, a broken man.
These biographical details are closely connected with the art of Wilde and with The Importance of Being Earnest, a play in which a number of the characters lead double lives.
They are adroit at saying and doing two opposing things at once, and they are virtuosic in their use of language. Nearly all the humor in the play depends on these devices. At times, it is not quite clear if the characters intend to imply another, usually hidden because socially dangerous meaning or if they are quite unconscious and even inept.
This shimmer between intention and its opposite is constant throughout the play, making the play a parade of cognitive dissonance. The Importance of Being Earnest, in particular, was immensely popular, its run cut short only by the real-life scandal that overtook the playwright.
The man who exposed secrets so subtly in his writing had exposed his own altogether too explicitly. The four young characters of the play have an engaging insouciance about them; they are defiant in their frankness and lovable for their vulnerability.
At the same time, they represent a very distinct character type. Algernon, Jack, Gwendolen, and Cecily show intelligence, wit, and taste, but they also reveal the shallowness, frivolity, and hypocrisy of their kind.
The jibe at the inbred nature of polite society remains implicit, but it is all the funnier for being so. An intellectual glow emanates equally from all the characters.
The formidable and overbearing Lady Bracknell is given such wonderful lines that the audience grows fond even of her. However, he gives them things to say that are every bit as puzzling and funny as what the wittier characters say.
It is the kind of humor that often requires a double take. The plot of The Importance of Being Earnest hinges on mistaken identity, as many plots do, though not many do so to such comic effect.
What is funny about the play is that the audience realizes that the characters could easily be someone quite other than who they seem. It is no wonder that audiences continue to love the play: Its humor is intoxicating, and its critique of society is breathtaking.5 Themes of the Play p.
17 6 Further Questions for Study and Discussion p. 21 When the play opens, Algernon, who knows Jack as Ernest, has begun to suspect something, Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest Resource Pack for Teachers - Comprehensive Version.].] Resource Pack for Teachers - Comprehensive Version.
Important Quotations Explained Further Study Test your knowledge of The Importance of Being Earnest with our quizzes and study questions, or go further with essays on the context and background and links to the best resources around the web.
Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest While some critics contend that The Importance of Being Earnest is completely fanciful and has no relation to the real world, others maintain that Oscar Wilde's "trivial comedy for serious people" does make significant comments about social class and the institution of marriage.
These observations include the prevalent utilization of deceit in everyday affairs. Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest Essay Words | 13 Pages. Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde is a legendary author who has composed many great plays including The Green Carnation and A Woman of No Importance, however, The Importance of Being Earnest was undoubtedly the most famous of his works.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST AND OTHER PLAYS BY OSCAR WILDE A Teacher’s Guide to The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays by Oscar Wilde 3 INTRODUCTION information about the play, Gross Indecency: DR Wilde Earnest TG benjaminpohle.com 4 10/24/12 PM.
The Importance of Being Earnest debuted in London on February 14, , when Wilde was at the height of his powers. But don't be fooled by the title. But don't be fooled by the title. There is nothing earnest about this play, at least on the surface.