Oscar Wilde and The Importance of Being Earnest and Summary

Oscar Wilde and The Importance of Being Earnest and Summary...

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Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Loved art, art served the purpose of art, not other goals, ends were aesthetic and its pleasures were in its sounds, images and thoughts Great conversationalist Homosexual liaisons after being married, sodomite,, ended up dying in exile in Paris Most plays- witty, insightful and sharp commentaries on the upper class British society he knew best o Owe a great deal to 18 th century comedies, British and European farces and comedies of his own time, all studied closely Unlike these- his are still funny and pertinent although the class has banished Importance opened on Valentine’s Day in 1895, closed two months because of his scandal going public. Reputation made and broke and then restored after his death The Importance of Being Earnest Was originally four acts, now three Subtitle was “a trivial comedy for serious people” A play about nothing that is profoundly amusing Beneath the surface is a commentary on a society that judges things only by appearance Main characters: Algernon Moncrieff and Jack Worthing, algernon’s cousin- Gwendolen Fairfax- adores name Earnest and is in love with Jack, Lady Bracknell= her mom, Cecily Cardew- Jack’s ward o Bunbury- seems to be character but is made up by Algernon- country friend who’s illnesses Algernon uses to avoid social events he dislikes, like Bracknell’s dinners. o In country- jack is himself but in town, he pretends to be Ernest, who Gwen and Algernon know him by Similarities with restoration comedies o Marriage is central in play, attitudes toward it are targets of satire Bracknell questions his family line- found in a bag at Victoria Station, Brighton Line Gwendolen- wants jack and prompts him to propose by saying he seems inexperienced at it Similarities to 1800 and 1890 farces- Eugene scribe, Aleixandre Dumas o Artificiality, planting information in first act to prove solution in the last act o Questions of disguise, identity, and revelation in the last minute Melodrama and well-made plays: revelation at end was about having the right background, emphasizes the triviality of a name, but the name earnest helps succeed Almost all devices from contemporary farce or comedy Persons of the play: John worthing: manor of house, woolton, Hertfordshire, protagonist Algernon Moncrieff: his friend- secondary hero, charming, witty, selfish Reverend canon chasuble: priest of woolten Merriman- johns butler Lane- algernon’s servant, knows about bun burying Lady bracknell- snobbish , married well and wants Gwen to do the same, humor in speech is unintentional, authoritarian and quotable
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This note was uploaded on 10/18/2009 for the course DRAM 115 taught by Professor Adamdavidson during the Spring '08 term at UNC.

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Oscar Wilde and The Importance of Being Earnest and Summary...

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