Importance Of Being Earnest

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Late Victorian poet, playwright, and novelist Oscar Wilde is most remembered for his flamboyant nature, sharp wit, aestheticism in the extreme, his imprisonment due to his homosexuality, and his humor. Unfortunately, because of his reputation as being an absurd comic, the deeper aspects of his works often go overlooked or are dismissed altogether. This sad fact does not only apply to modern readers of his works, but to some of his contemporaries as well. In fact, Wilde 's fellow countryman George Bernard Shaw once ridiculed what would become, perhaps, his most well-loved play, as being “all froth and no pith.”, meaning that it was, although amusing, of no real substance. The play about which Shaw was speaking, The Importance of Being Earnest,…show more content…
On the surface, much like the characters in The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde was respectable. His father was a surgeon, he attended Oxford University, and eventually married and had two kids. However, he also made no attempt at hiding the homosexual relationship he had with the young poet Lord Alfred, which, at the time, was not only considered to be morally reprehensible, but illegal as well (Norton 1720-1721). In this way, Wilde calling out those who live a double life while he, in a sense, was living one of his own, is also hypocritical. Later, during his imprisonment at Reading Goal, the once unapologetic Wilde would attempt to get released by claiming that he had acted under insanity (Janes 79-80). While this was most likely just his attempt to exploit the system into releasing him, it is another example of the author portraying himself in a certain way in order to benefit himself. He also went on to adopt an alias after his release, trying to escape the shame and ostracism of the social circles that once embraced him, further showing his willingness to use dishonesty as a means to an end (Norton
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