The Importance Of Being Earnest Moral Analysis

1074 Words5 Pages
Man Ieng Wong
Dr. Damian Shaw
ENGB220-001
12 April 2016
Is Oscar Wilde’s The Importance Of Being Ernest Merely Written To Amuse An Audience, Or Does It Have A Serious Moral Message?
Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy produced and released in 1895. It is regarded as his most famous and successful work. Wilde showed his marvelous skills in using humorous and satirical words in the play. However, in the early and mid-twentieth century, many people criticized that it was barely a play to amuse the audience, but without any meaningful inspiration. In order to overturn this comment, it is necessary to have an analysis of the play.
“… He developed a set of attitudes and postures for which he would eventually become famous. Chief
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The Victorian society regarded Ernest as a popular and respected name. Also, the meaning it implies, which is ‘serious’, ‘honest’, and ‘earnestness’, was seen as a serious value for the upper class people. In the play, Gwendolen and Cecily’s attitude towards the name Ernest is remarkable. When the two girls were asked whether they would still love the men engaged to them if their name was not Ernest, both of them definitely showed their attitude. For Gwendolen, she said “the only safe name is Ernest” (The Norton Anthology English Literature, 2303) and Cecily replied, “I fear that I should not be able to give you my undivided attention” (The Norton Anthology English Literature, 2320). From the conversations between Jack and Gwendolen, Algernon and Cecily, it is also notable that both of the girls were not really caring about “whether the man actually possesses the qualities that comprise earnestness” (SparkNotes Editors), what they admired was merely their name. This demonstrates again the Victorian upper class’s shallowness. Besides, it is quite preposterous to be engaged to someone only because of his or her name. This kind of engagement could hardly be serious and sincere. Moreover, it is ironic that none of the men were called Ernest. Ernest was just an artificial name invented by them, and both of them were not earnest
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