The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde is a satirical Essay Example
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde is a satirical Essay Example

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde is a satirical Essay Example

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Published in 1899, Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" is a satirical portrayal of Victorian society. It is known as the writer's greatest achievement and is highly regarded for its brilliance, inventiveness, and extreme humor. In the play, Wilde effectively depicts the characteristics of Victorian individuals through every character, particularly the two leading female characters, Gwendolen and Cecily, who significantly contribute to the plot.

The central conflict of the play centers on its protagonist, Jack Worthing. He is a young man who maintains two separate identities – Jack in the country and Ernest in town. Additionally, Algernon Moncrieff employs a fictional friend named 'Bunbury' as a means of evading tiresome social obligations. Jack desires to wed Gwendolen Fairfax, who believes his true name is Ernest. However, Lady Bracknell denies their union based on Jack's f


amilial history.

In Act 2, Algernon Moncrieff adds complexity to the conflict by pretending to be Jack's trouble-prone brother "Ernest" during a visit to Jack's country home. Algernon/Ernest falls in love with Cecily, Jack's attractive eighteen-year-old ward, who believes his name is truly Ernest. This situation inevitably leads to potential problems for them. However, all is resolved satisfactorily by the play's end. The significance of both Gwendolen and Cecily is evident throughout the play.

Gwendolen Fairfax is the quintessential Victorian woman - a cousin to Algernon and the daughter of Lady Bracknell. As a member of high society, Gwendolen embraces fashion and keeps up with the current trends. In Act 1, she exudes great self-assurance with statements like "I am always smart," "I am never wrong," and "I intend to develop in many directions." We meet her in Act 1 when she becomes

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engaged to Jack/Ernest.

Here, Gwendolen surprises both us and Jack by stating that she will only marry a man named Ernest, which she believes to be unquestionably trustworthy. This absurd obsession with conforming to societal expectations highlights the ignorance of Victorian women towards the reality that is right in front of them. Gwendolen fails to realize that her beloved is deceiving her, as she is completely fixated on the name "Ernest". She declares that marrying someone with this name has always been her ideal, which is ironically amusing given the current circumstances.

In Act 2, it is evident that while she possesses intelligence, she can also be foolish at times. Upon meeting Cecily, she expresses her belief that they will become close friends, stating, "Something tells me that we are going to be great friends. I already like you more than I can say. My first impressions on people are never wrong." However, her perspective quickly changes upon learning that they are both engaged to 'Ernest'. She exclaims, "From the moment I met you, I distrusted you. I knew you were wrong and deceitful. My first impressions on people are invariably right." Fortunately for Jack, she is a forgiving woman.

After the minor disagreement with Cecily and Jack's admission of the truth about himself, she immediately forgives them. In general, Gwendolen, who grew up in the city, is refined and sophisticated. Cecily Cardew, Jack's ward and the granddaughter of Thomas Cardew who adopted Jack as a baby, desires to marry Algernon, whom she mistakenly believes is named "Ernest". Cecily can be seen as the complete opposite of Gwendolen in terms of social matters, but despite this, both

Cecily and Gwendolen have many similarities. Cecily, who was raised in the countryside, is clever and unaffected.

Cecily is a dreamy young lady who created a romantic story involving Jack's imaginary brother and herself prior to their meeting. She has used her imagination to embellish the story, saying things like "I accepted you under this dear old tree... I bought this little ring in your name and this is the little bangle with the true lover's knot...". These details are all products of Cecily's imagination, including the "engagement" that supposedly lasted for three months and the letters exchanged. It is her fascination with wickedness that fuels her obsession with Algernon/Ernest.

She is the lone character who does not speak in epigrams. Cecily is initially introduced to us in Act 2, where she is tending to the flower garden despite being supposed to study German grammar, a subject she despises. This demonstrates her affection for nature and her indifference towards her studies. Gwendolen and Cecily share numerous similarities: their obsession with the name "Ernest," which they both believe to be "trustworthy beyond doubt." Additionally, they both maintain a diary that they carry with them at all times and use as evidence for their claims.

The text emphasizes the similarity between the characters, who even speak in union. They mention that their Christian names are a significant barrier between them. In Act 2, there is a fighting scene where both characters strive to achieve their goals. Despite being younger, less fashionable, and less sophisticated than Gwendolen, Cecily uses Gwendolen's obsession with fashion as a weapon to insult her during a small clash. Gwendolen mentions that she had no

idea there were any flowers in the country, to which Cecily responds by saying that flowers are common in the country, just as people are in London.

Cecily is quick-witted and determined, whereas she is described as "a sweet, simple, innocent girl." Gwendolen, on the other hand, is depicted as "a brilliant, clever, thoroughly experienced lady" from Jack and Algernon respectively. Despite these contrasts, the girls seem to possess more similarities. Each appear shallow and each loves Ernest because of their name. Gwendolen and Cecily are hopelessly in love with their counterparts and therefore provide the main source of conflict in this romantic comedy.

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