THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST: ANALISI
Oscar Wilde: The Importance Of Being Earnest. “The Importance of being Earnest”is a comedy by Oscar Wilde.The whole play is built on witty dialogues, puns and paradoxes. The title is a pun in itself, indeed it stands for “Earnest” for the adjective (honest, sincere) and “Ernest” for the first name. And they have the same sound in English. On the pun of the title is based the main paradox of the play, according to which the name is more important than behaviour. For example the paradox turns the famous quote of Giuliet on her lover: “What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Probably the fact that Wilde’s paradox recalls Shakespeare, is a motive of satire and this satire shows the stupidity of Victorian society.
In the play there are four principal characters: Algernon Moncrieff, John Worthing (Jack), Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax. Jack creates an alter-ego, Ernest, to marry Gwendolen because in their society the name is all. So he has got a double life: the first, in London, appears respectable, under Ernest’s name. “Appears” because he hides his true behaviour; the second, in countryside, is respectable but his name is Jack and so he appears negative.
Gwendolen accepts to marry Ernest.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST: ANALYSIS
Indeed the marriage is the main theme of the play and the major concern of the society, whose members are typical Victorian snobs. This institution isn’t based on love but on social convenience.
Wilde critics the institution of marriage because it is based on appearance, in fact ladies love the Ernest’s name, not the person, who doesn’t exist.
Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen’s mother, embodies the typical Victorian aristocrat; at the beginning she opposes to the marriage between Gwendolen and Ernest because he hasn’t aristocratic origins. But finally she accepts because the truth is that Jack belongs to her family and his name is really Ernest. Then he is Lady Bracknell’s nephew and Algernon’s brother.
Oscar Wilde makes of his paradoxes the main play’s structure, the conversation began more important than action and irony and satire are the dominant features. Satire comes from the use of solemn language in frivolous situations. So important and ridiculous things are on the same plane.
Then Wilde critics strongly Victorian society which dedicated to values as sense of duty, pry, beneficence and chastity, only for appearance.