Foolishness In Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest

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Foolishness is a theme that plays a huge part in Oscar Wilde’s play, The Importance of Being Earnest. Foolishness is defined as ‘lacking good sense or judgement’, and there is definitely a whole of that shown in many, if not most, of the characters in the play. This play is, however, a comedy, and when not taken seriously, all the empty-headedness adds a huge part in the hilarity of the play. Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen, and Algernon are characters in this play who do an exceptional job of displaying their foolishness. Lady Bracknell is a very ignorant and superficial character as is made obvious in the way she deals with different circumstances. The first example of her mindlessness is shown when she is ‘interrogating’ Jack. When she asks…show more content…
She shows what a feather-brained and superficial person she is when she tells Jack that she knew they were meant for each other, saying, “the moment Algernon first mentioned to me that he had a friend called Ernest, I knew I was destined to love you.”(Wilde 10). She is basically saying that the main reason she wants to marry him is because of his name, as she states again, saying, “Your Christian name has an irresistible fascination.”(Wilde 18). As for her views on proposing, she says, “Men often propose for practice. I know my brother Gerald does. All my girl friends tell me so.”(Wilde 11). This also hints a bit about what kind of a person she is regarding secrets. It is highly likely that her brother would not want all his actions made public knowledge, but she’s so ‘lovestruck’ that she just mindlessly says whatever comes to her. A demonstration of what a fickle person she is, is shown when she first meets Cecily. When they are first acquainted, Gwendolen tells her, “Something tells me that we are going to be great friends. I like you already more than I can say. My first impressions of people are never wrong.”(Wilde 34). Then, when she finds out that Cecily is engaged to ‘Ernest’, she says, “From the first moment I saw you I distrusted you. I felt that you were false and deceitful. I am never deceived in such matters. My first impressions of people are invariably right.”(Wilde…show more content…
His thoughts on marriage and proposals are certainly unconventional as he says that once one has proposed and been accepted, “Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If I ever get married, I’ll certainly try to forget the fact.”(Wilde 3). He then again shows his quirky side when he says, “I love scrapes. They are the only things that are never serious.”(Wilde 19), and additionally, to Jack’s response that he only ever talked nonsense, he replies, “Nobody ever does.”(Wilde 19). Algernon also takes great pleasure in vexing Jack while pretending to be Ernest, and he shows how little he cares about his character when he tells Jack, “My duty as a gentleman has never interfered with my pleasures in the smallest degree.”(Wilde 30). Later on in the play, after the girls find out that they have been tricked, he also displays an element of shallowness with his reaction - eating muffins. And in response to Jack’s saying that he is heartless, Algernon retorts with, “Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.”(Wilde 41). This goes to show just how much he really cares about the whole situation. His odd side is shown once again at the end of the play, when he is asked about Bunbury and he says, “Oh, he was quite
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