The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Every instance where food is mentioned – from the Algernon’s opening discussion of wine with his servant, Lane, to the girls’ insults over tea and the guys’ climactic fight over muffins – is fraught with conflict. The fight over something as basic as food – something that every human being has a carnal need for– might represents another carnal desire: sex. Because the men fight over food the most (Algernon’s wolfing down of the cucumber sandwiches to Lady Bracknell’s distress, Jack’s settling for bread and butter, Algernon’s consumption of Jack’s wine and muffins), we suspect that food fights are their way of expressing their sexual frustration in the face of unusually domineering women. You can’t deny that Lady Bracknell exerts a tremendous amount of power. Even Gwendolen and Cecily put their male lovers in compromising positions and dictate the terms of their marriages.