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The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Lies and Deceit

The most prevalent reason characters in The Importance of Being Earnest lie is to get out of social or familial duties and, instead, to do something more enjoyable. Not surprisingly, few characters...

Marriage

The big question The Importance of Being Earnest raises is whether marriage is pleasurable or a restrictive social duty. In general, the older generation thinks of marriage as a means to an end, a...

Respect and Reputation

In this play, the upper classes care about being respectable – so much so that they do a lot of lying about it. In general, Victorian upper-class society holds slightly different expectations...

Society and Class

The Importance of Being Earnest reveals the differences between the behavior of the upper class and that of the lower class. Members of the upper class display a great deal of pride and pretense, f...

Gender

In The Importance of Being Earnest, the question of each gender’s role in society often centers on power. In the Victorian world of this play, men have greater influence than women. Men make...

Versions of Reality: Romance

In The Importance of Being Earnest, pampered young women have a skewed sense of reality, inspired by romantic novels. When real life gets too boring, these women decide to take matters into their o...

Love

In The Importance of Being Earnest, it is often hard to distinguish Wilde’s notion of romance from that of real love. Readers must settle for a decidedly un-modern definition of love. For exa...

Foolishness and Folly

In The Importance of Being Earnest, the characters’ foolishness is the core of the comedy. Often, we don’t know whether a character says something contradictory or random in a serious w...
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