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Biplob Prodhan
  • 4 weeks ago
  • 29
Discuss The Importance of Being Earnest as a social satire. [NU. 2014, 2016]

Ans. A satire is a literary form that blends ironic humour and wit with criticism for the purpose of ridiculing follies, vices, foibles, stupidity, etc. in individuals and institutions. The Importance of Being Earnest gives us a satirical picture of the English upper class of the time, although there is a couple of satirical portraits of persons belonging to certain different orders of society, namely those of a clergyman and a governess.

Let us first consider the satirical portrayal of Algernon who is a qpical representative of the English upper class of the time. His -shallowness, irresponsibility, extravagance, vanity and gluttony are the main targets of satire. He belongs to the English aristocracy but because of extravagance, he is always in debt as it is pointed out by Lady Bracknell, he has nothing but his debts to depend upon”.

Jack also represents the upper class but he is much better than Algernon in certain respects. He is a responsible guardian and a serious type of young man. While Algernon is too light-hearted, Jack is too serious-minded. His very solemnity is made to look ridiculous. Cecily opines that her Uncle Jack sometimes looks so serious as to give the impression that he is unwell. His over seriousness may be found in his refusal to go either to the theatre, or to the club, or to empire.

The portrayal of Lady Bracknell is perhaps the most satirical of all. Through her portrayal the playwright exposes to ridicule the foibles, absurdities and vanity of the upper class ladies of his time. Lady Bracknell claims to have a taste for music but she would like her nephew to make the selection of the numbers to be played at her party. Her principal absurdities are her snobbery, class- consciousness, her mercenary outlook on life, her suspicious nature and her domineering temperament.

Next two characters outside the aristocracy are Dr. Chasuble, the clergyman and Miss Prism, the governess. Dr. Chasuble instead of inspiring respect, is subject to ridicule for his pompous manner of speaking, his hypocrisy, his lack of real scholarship and his materialistic attitude to life.

Thus The Importance of Being Earnest satirizes vividly the mannerisms, vices and follies of the England society of the time.

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