The Importance of being Satirical

Essay by jessydukeUniversity, Master'sA, May 2014

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

Irish Literature

The Importance of Being Satirical

Literature has given us pleasure, portrayed our joys, unveiled beauty, and opened our eyes to things we failed to see. It has stood alongside human's never-ending struggles and has even attempted to reform society. Writers used literary forms like satire and the comedy of manners to expose the downfalls and hypocrisies of their age. These kinds of literary works gave readers of that time, a sense of reality, and present readers, a clearer insight into the past ages.

The audience steered their appeal to literary works that held a certain realistic function, quite different from previous literary attempts. However:

English drama in its renascent stage needed other elements than a mere attempt at 'realism'- it needed fancy and wit. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) gave it wit in his admirable artificial comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, one of the most amusing plays ever written, a comedy of manners.

(Burgess 198)

According to Webster, A comedy of manners is a "Witty, ironic form of drama that satirizes the manners and fashions of a particular social class or set" (Webster 1) and that is exactly what Wilde set out to do. In his play The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde shed light on the hypocrisy of the Victorian age.

Victorians sought an almost perfect, non- existing society. They became obsessed with the idea of respectability and what is acceptable moral conduct. In the Victorian Age:

Respectability was a mixture of both morality and hypocrisy, severity and conformity to social standards. Manners underwent a deep change in this period...the age turned excessively puritanical..."respectability" became the key word of Victorianism. (Victorian Age)

Wilde sought to expose the exact opposite. Wilde's witty satirical humour starts at the very beginning; the title. 'Earnest' , the name of one...