A Long Lasting Comedy Essay Research Paper

A Long Lasting Comedy Essay, Research Paper A Long Lasting Comedy In today?s world we are all exposed to comedy. We see comedy in a variety of ways. These ways include: movies, plays, situational comedies on television, and stand up comedians. However, there is something very different about the typical comedy today compared to the play ?The Importance of Being Earnest? written by Oscar Wilde.

A Long Lasting Comedy Essay, Research Paper

A Long Lasting Comedy

In today?s world we are all exposed to comedy. We see comedy in a variety of ways. These ways include: movies, plays, situational comedies on television, and stand up comedians. However, there is something very different about the typical comedy today compared to the play ?The Importance of Being Earnest? written by Oscar Wilde. The modern comedy usually uses characters that are funny or actors that are known to be great comedians. What I mean by this is that the characters are not usually serious or doing anything of the serious nature. In ?The Importance of Being Earnest?, Oscar Wilde uses paradox, pun, and paralleled irony to make characters that are in a serious type environment become comic.

Most commonly, when we think of a paradox, we think of a statement that is contradictory or ?far fetched? but somehow is true. But in ?The Importance of Being Earnest? it is somewhat different. For example, when Jack returns from London and is pretending to mourn the death of his brother he is confronted by Cecily with the news that his brother was there. Jack then states ?What nonsense! I haven?t got a brother.?(Wilde 68) This statement was true, but only true to Jack because he had led everyone to believe that he indeed had a brother named Earnest living in London. The paradox is that the statement is contradictory, in that it contradicts his own lies and is in fact true as far as he new. The fact that Algernon is there posing as Earnest makes his statement even more contradictory and therefore comical. Another example of a paradox is Algernon first arrives to the country and is talking to Cecily, he tries to convince her that Earnest is not wicked and Cecily replies with ?If you are not, then you have certainly been deceiving us all in a very inexcusable manner. I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.?(Wilde 60-61) This statement was true in fact, but not for Algernon, for the fictional Earnest who had been living a double life.

The use of puns in ?The Importance of Being Earnest? is not your typical use of just humorous words. ?? Wilde defamiliarizes words in order to defamiliarize the world they supposedly represent. He enacts the arbitraries of language ? to rediscover the arbitrariness of supposedly ?natural? social arrangements.? (Danson 151) The most substantial pun of the play is the name ?Earnest?. Not only does it describe what one should be but also who he should be. The fact that both Jack and Algernon are both trying become ?Earnest? proves that to everyone in the play that it is more important who you are.

Irony is the element that Wilde uses to make everything so unbelievable that it is funny. Other than the obvious irony that Jack is really Earnest after all, the fact that there are so many parallels in the story is very ironic. One irony is that Jack?s trips to London are like Algernon?s Bunbury, but they both disapprove of each others doing. There is even a parallel in that Jack prevents Algernon from Cecily and Lady Bracknell prevents Jack from Gwendolen. The irony being that both will get their woman regardless because both women parallel in the fact that are competing for the name ?Earnest?. This would also leave you to believe that both Jack and Algernon will be ?Earnest?.

This play was written over one hundred years ago, but is still very funny. It is hard to believe that something that old is still funny. However, when you read Wilde?s work you can see how advanced he was and how he used words very wittingly. ?Wilde?s linguistic virtuousity is so complete and so consciously flaunted that the play exists for most people as a dazzling, if insubstantial tissue of pun and paradox.?(Bose 83) In using serious characters and then in a way mocking their seriousness, Wilde made a comedy using paradox, pun, and parallel irony that will for ever be long lasting

Works Cited

Bose, Tirthanker. Oscar Wilde?s Game of Being Earnest. Modern Drama. Vol. 21,

Toronto, 1978. 81-86.

Danson, Lawrence. Wilde?s Intentions: The Artist in his Criticism. Oxford: Clarendon

Press, 1997.

Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. Ed. Henry Popkin. New York: Avon,

1965.

485

Bose, Tirthanker. Oscar Wilde?s Game of Being Earnest. Modern Drama. Vol. 21,

Toronto, 1978. 81-86.

Danson, Lawrence. Wilde?s Intentions: The Artist in his Criticism. Oxford: Clarendon

Press, 1997.

Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. Ed. Henry Popkin. New York: Avon,

1965.