Why Did Oscar Wilde Wrote The Importance Of Being Earnest

The year 1895 saw the first performance of The Importance of Being Earnest, a play written by Oscar Wilde. Wilde, known for his witty writing style, wrote the famous play to explore the comedic elements of the Victorian era in England. It brought about a lighthearted approach to societal matters, and was quickly regarded as a masterpiece. This begs the question: why did Oscar Wilde write The Importance of Being Earnest?

First and foremost, Wilde was an incredibly prolific writer. He had already experienced success as a novelist and wanted to see if he could create a successful play. It was an open challenge to himself, and Wilde was up to the task. The play itself is essentially a parody of the hypocrisy of the Victorian class system, as it highlights the expectations placed on those in the upper classes.

Moreover, Wilde was able to take advantage of the restrictions of Victorian society to poke fun and satirize the conventions of the day. This was done with enough subtlety that it was able to remain an amusing piece of literature without critique or attack. In addition, Wilde was able to develop the comical characters of the play in a manner that pushed the boundaries of acceptable behavior at the time. Algernon and Jack are equipped with comedic wit, and the characters and their dialogue back up the themes of the play.

The story itself is based around the idea of a marriage between Jack and Gwendolyn, but the characters bring their own twist. The blurring of gender roles also helps show Wilde’s understanding of the human struggle and his witty irony. His satirical style helps viewers understand the absurdities of Victorian society, as well as the hypocrisy within it. The elements of love, fidelity, and social class are all explored in a humorous way.

Finally, it is telling that even though the play debuted more than a century ago, the themes are still relevant today. Wilde was able to capture the difficulties of love, honor, and modernity in a way that still can be understood by audiences. Through his use of comedy and wit, Wilde was able to accurately portray the inescapable facets of Victorian societal conventions and remain a classic literary work today.

Why Humor?

Wilde was a master of using humor to shed light on various issues and topics. The Importance of Being Earnest certainly reflects this, as it takes the social conventions of the day and twists them in a subtle, comedic way. By doing so, Wilde was able to approach common struggles in the Victorian era with a lighthearted attitude. Despite the satire featured in the play, it still manages to bring a smile to the face of the viewer.

The characters also add an extra layer of humor. Wilde was able to bring out specific traits of each character, from the odd honorableness of Algernon to the stoic aloofness of Jack. Their interactions with one another convey a sense of joy, in an era where the mores of society made any real sense of joy a rarity. The characters were able to bring humor to situations where it wasn’t expected, highlighting the obliviousness and silliness of the norms at the time.

Finally, it is in the nature of Wilde’s writing that the humor can remain timeless. His acclaimed style was often quirky and lighthearted, an approach that found success in a Victorian era. Wilde was clever enough to be able to express his viewpoints without being too blatant, allowing the satire to remain enjoyable while maintaining its subtlety.

The Impact of The Importance of Being Earnest

Wilde’s writing has had a lasting impact. His play may be considered to have been his most successful work, and it remains a popular classic today. Even with the dozens of adaptations of the play, the core ideas and themes survive.

The popularity of The Importance of Being Earnest serves as evidence for Wilde’s approach of using wit and humor to discuss social convention. Since the play remains relevant even today, it is a testament to Wilde’s ability to effectively portray the culture of his time. It offers a way of understanding the obstacles and coping with the restrictions placed on people of the era.

The content of The Importance of Being Earnest also showcases the nuances of Wilde’s character. He was not one to hold back in his writing, and pushed the envelope often. The play stands as a reminder of his free-spirited nature and his ability to express a unique perspective with a hint of wit and humor.

The cultural relevance of The Importance of Being Earnest is indisputable. It is clear that Wilde wanted to express his own beliefs in a way that would be entertaining, while still understanding the restrictions of his time. He was able to emphasize the seriousness of the issues while still making the work enjoyable.

Oscar Wilde’s Other Works

Wilde was also known for his other great works. His novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was an exploration of morality, examining a range of topics including beauty, narcissism, and morality through the narrative of a young man named Dorian Gray. The novel is a timeless classic, yet the ideas and themes still apply in our current society.

Wilde’s other works include plays such as An Ideal Husband, Lady Windermere’s Fan and Salomé. Like The Importance of Being Earnest, these works are still popular and relevant today. They all explore different themes, with varying approaches. For example, Lady Windermere’s Fan focuses on a marriage compromised by lies, while An Ideal Husband deals with the ethics of politics and justice.

Wilde was also known for his short stories, such as The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and the Rose. These works featured their own approach to social conventions, and were more ornate in construction than Wilde’s longer works, such as his plays. With these works, Wilde was able to take his skills in satire and wit to a deeper level, allowing his characters to explore morality and human behavior with added poignancy.

Oscar Wilde and the Victorian Era

It is clear that Wilde had a strong influence in the Victorian era. His works were well-respected and often seen as thought-provoking pieces of literature. The humor was often subtle and nuanced, and it allowed viewers to appreciate the social conventions of the era in a different light. His works remain as classics to this day, and it is easy to see why he was so influential in the Victorian period.

Wilde was also known for his eccentric behavior and flair for the dramatic. His writings often featured his own distinctive style and attitude, and his works managed to remain popular despite their difference from the norms of the day. In addition, Wilde’s works were often seen as a way to encourage those in the Victorian era to take a step back and view the mores of society through a different lens.

The ambition of Wilde’s works cannot be understated. He had a vision of creating a play that was timeless, and his efforts certainly paid off. The Importance of Being Earnest has served as an interesting piece of literature and, although it was written more than a century ago, it still has relevance today. Wilde’s play has become a timeless classic and it is easy to see why.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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