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The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

  

by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest Analysis

Literary Devices in The Importance of Being Earnest

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The two imaginary people created by Jack and Algernon might symbolize the empty promises or deceit of the Victorian era. Not only is the character Ernest anything but earnest for the majority of th...

Setting

This might seem like a play that uses ye old City Mouse vs. Country Mouse squabble. But Wilde is too clever for that.Usually, having two differing locales (like lavish London and an unspoiled count...

Narrator Point of View

Nope. Nothing doing here, folks. This is a play without a narrator or a chorus.Though all works of literature present the author’s point of view, they don’t all have a narrator or a narrative v...

Genre

In the most basic sense, The Importance of Being Earnest is a drama... because it’s a play. It's also a comedy—not only in the modern laugh-out-loud way, but also in the classical sense, in tha...

Tone

Put a (silver) (salad) fork in it: this satire is done.Wilde’s main point in The Importance of Being Earnest is to criticize Victorian society by showing how shallow and hypocritical is it. What...

Writing Style

Oscar Wilde is an almost insanely funny and witty writer. He is 100% invited to our all-star, all-hilarious dead celebrity dinner party... along with Mae West and Joseph Heller.Wilde's humor in The...

What's Up With the Title?

The genius of this title depends on a pun between the adjective "earnest," meaning honest or sincere, and the name "Ernest." Oh, Wilde! You wit! So let’s focus on the first definition. Wait, we...

What's Up With the Ending?

The Importance of Being Earnest is a capital-C Comedy. It ends happily, resolving any tensions in such a way that all the characters get what they desire. This means that all secret identities are...

Plot Analysis

Hello, my name is Ernest. (Act I, Lines 1-78)For the young Victorian man, the double life is the good life. Jack and Algernon both have secret identities and activities. Up until now, they have...

Booker’s Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Comedy

I’m Ernest! No, I’m Ernest!Both Jack and Algernon impersonate a nonexistent but notoriously wicked man named Ernest for the sole purpose of meeting the women they love. It helps that Gwendole...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Jack’s second identity is revealed to fellow Bunburyist, Algernon. Jack's name isn’t really Ernest. But Jack’s lack of parents makes it impossible for him to marry his beloved, Gwendolen. L...

Trivia

When Wilde showed his completed play in four acts to the theater director George Alexander, the director advised him to cut it down to three acts. The result was that a scene featuring Mr. Gribsby...

Steaminess Rating

There’s no actual sex in The Importance of Being Earnest. But the whole reason we have a plot is because of differing opinions on two corollaries of sex—love and marriage. We’re not going to...

Allusions

Aegeria (II.29): a Roman mythological water nymph known for giving wisdomMudie (II.12) of Mudie’s Lending Library, which was largely responsible for the rise of the Victorian three-volume novelCe...

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