Classism In Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest
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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