Marxism In The Importance Of Being Earnest

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How and why is a social group represented in a particular way? In his play The Importance of Being Earnest (1895, London St. James’ theater), Oscar Wilde portrays the attitudes and society of Victorian upper class through character interactions within the ‘Bunburyist’ adventures of Algernon Moncrieff and Jack Worthing. The play’s comedic elements, in addition to the portrayal of power structures, are used as an effective medium to challenge the viewer to reflect upon Wilde’s criticism on institutions and values of the aristocracy. In conjunction to this, deeper analysis can be conducteds about marriage in Victorian aristocracy and their attitudes to members of other social groups. Wilde portrays the upper class’ attitudes towards the rest…show more content…
A tool in revealing this is the concept of Dualism, which is, “simply stated, the split of one into two, while still existing as one”. In the context of the play, characters such as Lady Bracknell live a double life to a certain extent. Initially, she seems like the archetypal aristocrat, but upon closer inspection, this impression is rebutted by her history: she is revealed to have just climbed up the “social ladder” by marrying up with Lord Bracknell. Lady Bracknell, “the guardian of the morality of the society, the only reliable source of taste and probity” is revealed from her superficial image with identification of her as “a social climber and not an aristocrat at all”. The basis for this conclusion can be found from Act III and Lady Bracknell’s address to Algernon: “When I married Lord Bracknell I had no fortune of any kind. But I never dreamed for a moment of allowing that to stand in my…show more content…
On several occasions, characters in the play express their indifference to matrimony: Lane, Algernon’s servant, mentions in conversation with Algernon that his marriage was “consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young person”, undermining the importance of intimacy in marriage. Lady Bracknell backs up this idea in Act III, where she tells Cecily Cardew and Algernon that: “I am not in favor of long engagements. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other’s character before marriage, which I think is never advisable”, displaying the belief that one does not actually need to be acquainted with the person they are to marry. Lady Bracknell also refers to another characteristic of Victorian marriages, which was their establishment as a predestined business transaction. In Victorian society, arranged marriages were more often a rule than an exception, and children had little to no say about these matters. During the play, Gwendolen experiences this when Lady Bracknell denies her engagement to Jack, saying that “you are not engaged to anyone. When you become engaged to anyone, I will inform you of the
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