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Words Are Often Less Important Than Actions. Discuss in Relation to Act One of the Importance of Being Earnest

  • Date Submitted: 03/10/2016 09:35 AM
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Words are often less important than actions in relation to act one of the Importance of Being Earnest

The comedy of The Importance of Being Earnest uses spoken language to convey comical actions rather than physical actions. The Importance of Being Earnest is a drama because of its origins as a play, but also as a contextual comedy as the characters follow the general format of falling in love with each other and ending with the idea of marriage. However, the play is also very satirical, making light of the aristocratic classes, exaggerating the upper-class morals and the frivolity of the characters. A lot of the dialogue in act one creates a lot of comedy, especially the hyperbolic lines and the comical connections it makes between characters. An example of this is the relationship between Algernon and his servant, Lane. Oscar Wilde, through the use of speech, portrays the two characters as socially equal, despite the fact that in the Victorian era this was far from common. Typically when one thinks of servants, they think of very discreet people, simply there to do their job; however Lane seems very confident around Algernon, which can be seen from his speech. When Algernon asks Lane “why is it that… servants invariably drink the champagne?” and Lane responds “I attribute it to the superior quality of the wine,” we see the opposite of a stereotypical Victorian servant. Lane’s attitude is very cocky and instead of apologising for drinking the alcohol, he blames it on the actual wine, despite it being an inanimate object. This creates comedy because it isn’t the social norm for a servant to answer back to his master in such a way, and blaming an object which cannot have any guilt makes the whole situation a lot more humorous. When looking at Lane throughout the rest of the first act, it seems a lot of his lines could be delivered with a very deadpan expression which heightens the comedy. When considering the comedy of the play, it seems as though words are very...


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