Oscar Wilde wrote his plays against the backdrop of the Victorian English society. It therefore helps to discuss the salient aspects of the Victorian society. Victorian England is known for many paradoxes -- glaring contrasts between the rich and the poor, insistence on morality on the one hand and the practice of cynicism on the other, blooming creativity pitted against blatant constriction, imperial grandeur since Britain was then ruling almost one fifth of the total surface of the earth and domestic squalor since the majority of people did not have decent means of livelihood, and finally collectivity dictated by tradition opposed to the rapidly developing individualism. The class system denied the talented members of the lower classes access to social and economic advancement. The upper classes alone had the privilege of working in the government, the armed forces, and the church, while trade was monopolized by the rising middle class. The lower classes were obliged to work hard in the factories and farms and make do with very low wages. It often resulted in friction between the classes bordering on social strife although it never erupted in a revolution the way it did in France. The injustice of the English society encouraged novelists such as Oscar Wilde to describe in moving terms the many hardships suffered by the common people and the many failures and follies of English life.
Oscar Wilde’s great plays, The Importance of Being Earnest, incorporates some classical
People are destined to be ranked into a social class. Social class is something, which one is born into, and this class cannot be changed. These classes begin with the low, middle, and high classes. Each class has different tiers, such as upper middle class or lower middle class. One might argue that the acquirement of wealth can change one’s social class, or that a person can learn to live like the class above them.
The Importance of Being Earnest written by Oscar Wilde is an excellent play which has many underlying themes and suggestions especially with regards to the Victorian era, during which this was written. Many themes within the play are reflective of Wilde and his life, including his secrecy and supposed “double life,” his interest in aestheticism, his life pertaining the mannerisms and social etiquette during his lifetime. Today, Oscar Wilde is often remembered in part due to his well known homosexuality trial of 1895 (Linderd, 1), but his “second life” per se had been speculated on for years prior to it, in fact many of his plays contain subtle yet effective implications towards a possible piece of his life kept hidden from the public eye. The Importance of Being Earnest mirrored this double life through the utilization of Jack and Algernon's “Bunburying,” and their motives for lying to the ones whom they love.
Relatively all authors are very fond of creating an underlying message to criticize society. Authors do this through social commentary. The book “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is no exception. The author, Oscar Wilde, criticizes the upper class through the consistent underlying idea that people are often deceived by one's beauty and are unable to understand the poison that fills the world is corrupting it. From the beginning of this book, the social commentary towards the upper class begins with the structure of the novel.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, in his book The Great Gatsby, exposes the effect of classism on the ability to achieve the American Dream. In this book, Daisy loved Gatsby prior to Tom but didn’t want to commit to Gatsby on account of him being in the lower middle class. Gatsby decides to become a bootlegger in order to advance in the social class and to win over his dream girl, Daisy. Gatsby and Daisy have a little rendezvous but it does not go beyond that because Daisy knows that Gatsby may not be able to provide her a stable life. In the end, Gatsby dies before he could have achieved his idea of the American Dream.
Throughout the story of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, Oscar pointed out many oblivious actions done by the characters. He constantly used the characters to exaggerate actions of our society today. Wilde uses exaggerations to show how the characters were unable to be a complete individual without the face of the strict social expectations influencing their actions. Everywhere in the society, they are all unable to make their own decisions, and it is very hard for them to be truthful towards who they are without societal norms interfering causing them to lose all individuality. Wilde uses reversal to show how the characters actions were completely insane since they were trying to accommodate societal expectations.
Oscar Wilde’s satirical play The Importance of Being Earnest, set in the late Victorian era, London, is a portrayal of British upper class society and its conventions surrounded by a strict code of conduct. In 1890’s class society, earnestness was desired; to follow the moral code and social obligations in order to keep up one’s appearance. Besides, there was a huge gender disparity between men and women. In the play, Wilde criticizes the social inequality and Victorian upper class standards. He characterizes Victorian personae making fun of their qualities; hypocrisy, arrogance and absurdism, ultimately the very vital state and lifeline of not being earnest at all in Victorian society.
Through this satirical writing, Wilde uses comparison of beauty and industrialism and juxtaposition between compliments and criticism to paint American social values as backwards and unappealing in order to dispel the glamour of a romantic American culture.
Oscar Wilde’s Victorian melodramatic play The Importance of Being Earnest opened on February 14, 1895. Wilde used this play to criticize Victorian society through clever phrasing and satire. Throughout the play The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde displayed the themes of the nature of marriage, the constraints of morality, and the importance of not being earnest. One of the themes that Oscar Wilde includes in the play is the nature of marriage.
Wilde’s comedic influence takes place in the characters placing emphasis on trivial things and treating serious matters with inconsequence. Though this play could be viewed as a simple comedy, what makes it a satirical work is the underlying social commentary. Wilde highlights his views on institutions such as love, marriage, and gender relations by satirizing their nature via reductio ad absurdum and thereby reveals their essential frivolity. Though marriage is traditionally viewed by society as the final step in a lover’s journey, Wilde intentionally separates marriage and love to the point where they seem mutually exclusive.
The play An Ideal Husband was written by Oscar Wilde in 1895 in England’s Victorian era. This era was characterised by sexual anarchy amongst men and women where the stringent boundaries that delineated the roles of both men and women were continually being challenged by threatening figures such as the New Woman represented by Mrs Cheveley and dandies such as Lord Goring(Showalter, 3). An Ideal Husband ultimately affirms Lord Goring’s notions about the inequality of the sexes because of the evident limitations placed on the mutability of identity for female characters versus their male counterparts (Madden, 5). These limitations will be further elaborated upon in the context of the patriarchal aspects of Victorian society which contributed to the failed attempts of blackmail by Mrs Cheveley, the manner in which women are trapped by their past and their delineated role of an “angel of truth and goodness” (Powell, 89).
arch 2018 The Importance of Being Earnest: Oscar Wilde’s Criticism on the Upper Class Using humor, cleverness, and style, Oscar Wilde illustrates the lives of the Victorian upper class in The Importance of Being Earnest. More specifically, the “Trivial Comedy for Serious People” reveals in a satirical manner the insignificant concerns of Great Britain’s aristocracy. In the introduction of The Picture of Dorian Gray and Other Writings, editor Richard Ellmann creates an overview of Wilde’s best known work.
Wilde is greatly influenced by the societal movements in the Victorian Era, therefore the theme of hedonism is prominent displaying the influence of Aestheticism in The Picture of Dorian Gray and further explaining the consequences of selfishness and self-pleasure. The Aestheticism movement shockingly challenged all past standards of love, pleasure, and sexuality. Specifically this Victorian movement “promotes sexual… experimentation. ”(Burdett)
The setting in The Great Gatsby is used mainly to paint a picture of the class differences in the roaring twenties. The people from all the social classes suddenly became aware of the class differences. It was evident that the social classes were clearly divided by location, amount of material possessions and the way one person acts. Throughout the story multiple examples of social classes were being inserted in The Great Gatsby, and how each social class was not found of the other. The American Dream is not all what is made up to be throughout this novel compared to portraying the different views of the objection of American Dream from then compared to now.
While many have been familiar with the title of the play The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, one should also pay attention to its subtitle, ‘trivial comedy for serious people’. The play is a satire that ridicules the upper class to point out its fault (Kreuz and Roberts 100).The aim is to ridicule the ‘serious people’, members of the upper class in Victorian society. The characters were too attentive to social propriety and etiquette, which were as trivial as the comedy suggests in the eyes of Wilde. As they were too stubborn to alter the behaviour, the propriety and etiquette became superficial and meaningless. Their idleness and hypocrisy are other points at which Wilde recurrently mock in the play.
Another theme illustrated through Wilde’s use of motifs and symbols is the theme of superficiality. The theme of superficiality can be understood as a sense of the superficial view of outer beauty that is shown in the work. It relates to the concept of remaining young, which is an important factor of what is shown in the novel. This is an important part of the novel because outer beauty plays a bigger role for Dorian, than inner beauty does. In the beginning of the novel, Lord Henry and Dorian have a conversation that focuses on the topic of youth and Dorian 's outer beauty – Lord Henry mentions the fact that Dorian has a beautiful face, and later during this conversation, Lord Henry states that: “youth is the only thing worth having…”