Sunday, July 10, 2011

Comedy Elements in the Importance of Being Earnest

Comedy is an important literary device employed in dramatic plays to express an important message.  In humorous plays like The Importance of Being Earnest, the author's main objective is to establish humor in a number of occurrences that pertains to audience's intellect.  The author presents the character(s) in the comedy to be less intelligent that the audience so that their acts evoke a comparison between real life and create a sense of humor among the audience.  In The Importance of Being Earnest, humor has been portrayed using comedic devices in a number of characters. There are many examples from The Importance of Being Earnest that portray comedic elements using irony, satire, and other literary devices as the foundation.

First, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncreiff portrays shows a number comedic incidences.  They talk about trivial nonsense, complete irrelevance. For example, when they are talking about place of science in the society, Algermon asks "Have you got the cucumber sandwiches".  He brings about an altered conversation in the middle of an intelligent conversation.  He later remarks that he is speaking about "Science of Life".  When they are discussing why Jack is in the country, Jack thinks that the town in the ‘in' and the place where elites ought to be (Wilde).  Jack responds "when one is in town, one amuses oneself. When one is in the country, one amuses other people" (Wilde). The two talks in a complicated manner but they understand each other perfectly.

Second, Jack Worthing, who is the main character in the play, is referred to as Earnest, a name that sticks to lips of most people in the city.  Lady Gendolen falls in love with Jack just because she is amused by the name Earnest.  This comedic element has been established through irony because Lay Gwendolen is totally blinded by the name Earnest, while the audience knows the real name of Earnest is Jack. Jack has invented a new character "a very useful younger brother called Earnest," (Wilde) since his name, Jack, is not fit for the town. In this case, there is evidence of audience's comedic element created through their awareness of the irony because the audiences are more likely to use intellect rather than emotion to understand and interpret the irony presented.

In the play, Jack, after inventing the name Earnest, and lady Gwendolen falls in love and want to get married. When Jack asks for a hand in marriage from Gwendolen mother, Lady Bracknell, he is turned down because Lady Bracknell knows that Jack was conceived in a handbag at a train depot.  Lady Bracknell finds it unnecessary for her daughter to get married to an orphan while there were many noble men around. "You are not down on my list of eligible young men," Lady Bracknell replied to Jack (Wilde).  In the play, Lady Bracknell is presented as a snob and overprotective mother.  She ironically pocks her nose in other people's business especially when the issues concerns marriage.  In this example, comedic element and humor is created through satire and ridicule.  This is because there was not way Jack could have changed his life to become noble in the eyes of Lady Bracknell to be granted hand in married for Gwendolen.

The comedic elements that have been explained from The Importance of Being Earnest show that that author strives to express real life situation using comedic devices.  The development of comedic elements in the play creates humor through the way the audience can relate events in the play to real life situations. There are many instances where the author uses direct humor. For example, that author creates humor through playing on words, reversing sayings, mocking marriages and aristocracy, satirizing women, and others. The author talks of "The truth is rarely pure and never simple" while the actual saying is "The truth is pure and simple."  The author also talks of "It is simple washing one's own clean linen in public" instead of "It is simple washing one's dirty linen in public." (Wilde)

There are many humorous devices in the play The Importance of Being Earnest. Through studying the comedic elements and how they have been established, the audience is in a position to understand why the situations are quite funny. The comedic traits in the play can be applied in real life situation in the modern society to understand the real meaning of this comedy.

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