Comparison of The Importance of Being Earnest and Hamlet

Comparison of The Importance of Being Earnest and Hamlet -...

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Comparison of The Importance of Being Earnest and Hamlet An appearance versus reality is a shared theme in the plays The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, and Hamlet by William Shakespeare. In Hamlet Claudius tries to give the appearance that the king's death was an accident when, in reality, he was murdered. In order to seek revenge Hamlet appears as though he is losing his mind when, in reality, it is an act. In The Importance of Being Earnest Jack appears to be a responsible, serious man in the country, while in the city he is Ernest, a carefree, fun loving man in love. His friend Algernon uses a technique known as Bunburying in order to give the appearance to his family that he must be excused from certain obligations in order to attend to his often sick friend Bunbury. However, the reality is that Algernon travels to the country in order to seek more enjoyable activities. Both plays give examples of how people put on appearances for the sake of fitting in to society, and as a way to manipulate a situation in order to get what they want. More importantly, they show how the deceitfulness of appearances will inevitably cause chaos or destruction. In Hamlet, Claudius murders his brother and convinces his sister-in-law to be his wife in order to gain the position of king. However, he puts on an act in order to appear to his court as though he is grieving the "accidental" death of his brother, while celebrating the new marriage between himself and his dead brother's wife. Hamlet, in an attempt to find out the truth about his father's death, appears to be losing his mind, even though he confesses to his friends in secret that it is all an act. However, it becomes unclear toward the end as to whether Hamlet is still acting or if his reality has merged with his false appearance, and he is now truly beginning to lose his mind. Claudius sends someone to tell Hamlet that he wants Hamlet to fence with Laertes, when in reality Claudius and Laertes have concocted a plan to kill Hamlet by lacing Laertes's sword with poison so that even the slightest cut will kill Hamlet. Claudius also poisons a drink that he will present to Hamlet as a victory drink. In the end the queen drinks from the poisoned glass and dies, while Hamlet, Laertes, and Claudius are all killed by the poisoned sword, proving that deceitful appearances can bring about destructive consequences. In The Importance of Being Earnest, Jack and Algernon both participate in an activity referred to by Algernon as Bunburying. It is important to Jack to keep up the appearance to his staff and his ward Cecily, all of whom are at his home in the country, that he is a serious, moral, and responsible man all the time. However, Jack, feeling the need to get away once in a while to engage in less moral, fun activities, invents a fake, troublesome brother, named Ernest, as an excuse to go into the city where he actually pretends to be Ernest. Algernon also invents a fake, sick friend as a way to excuse himself from family
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This note was uploaded on 08/29/2011 for the course EDU 101-404 taught by Professor Ide during the Spring '11 term at DeVry Phoenix.

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Comparison of The Importance of Being Earnest and Hamlet -...

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