Oscar Wilde's Trivial Comedy For Serious People

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The Importance of A Good Appearance Oscar Wilde’s “Trivial Comedy for Serious People” illustrates the issues rampant in the elite Victorian upper class. He writes, “really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility” (17). Wilde’s characters make up a group of upper class Victorians, and Wilde uses their conversations to critique high society. Wilde dissects the Victorian lifestyle with ironic epigrams to illustrate the backwards thinking of most Victorians. The Victorians are shown to be incredibly shallow and they only seem to care about the trivial elements of life. Moreover, Wilde highlights his characters’ pretentious focus on outward presentation to…show more content…
Wilde creates characters that deliberately make choices in order to improve their image. For example, his characters often lie about what they are doing, so they can keep up their social appearance. Algernon makes up a man named Bunbury as an excuse to miss events. When Algernon explains to Jack the benefits of Bunburying, he notes that without Bunbury he “wouldn’t be able to dine with [Jack] at Willis’s to-night, for [he has] been really engaged to Aunt Agusta for more than a week” (11). Wilde’s characters lie to develop their appearance, and they even lie about their names. Both Jack and Algernon introduce themselves as Jack’s brother Earnest, and Cecily and Gwendolen say they can only love a man named Earnest. The characters are hyper focused on trivial matters, like one’s name. This illustrates the Victorian culture to value appearance over substance. For example, the Victorian characters care more about perceivable qualities than the truth. Lady Brackwell qualifies Algernon as a good option for a husband, because “Algernon is an extremely, [] ostentatiously, eligible young man. He has nothing, but he looks like everything. What more can one desire?” (52). Wilde
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