"Although Wilde seems frivolous, he aims at illuminating serious issues about humanity." How far do you agree with this assertion?

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iandavidclark3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Oscar Wilde often seems frivolous to the extreme, and readers who identify him as such would not be entirely wrong. However, this frivolity and apparent carelessness actually point to more serious themes and ideas. As such, though Wilde certainly writes frivolous narratives, within this silliness resides a deeper commentary on human nature. 

Take, for instance, Wilde's most enduring work, The Importance of Being Earnest. This play's story is trivial in the extreme, with characters obsessing over the name Ernest and according it with an absurd degree of importance. However, in constructing such an outrageous premise, Wilde also brilliantly satirizes the lifestyles of England's upper classes. The richest members of society, Wilde seems to suggest, seem to lead lives of relative meaninglessness, as their daily lives are entirely trivial. Indeed, by having the main characters fall in love over the name Ernest, Wilde subtly suggests that human relationships (especially those formed by members of the upper class) are often based on inconsequential desires and/or motives. As such, we can see that, though he often seems to dabble in extreme unimportance, Wilde is actually illustrating significant and serious ideas regarding the state of humanity.