The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

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Compare the characters of Jack and Algernon in Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.

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Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy of manners that critiques the members of the Victorian upper class of the period—namely those members of society who had little to do with their time besides seek entertainment and social experiences. Jack and Algernon are two such men, having found themselves in families where money appears to be no question, and time is divided either between city or country diversions. Both men, despite possessing financial freedom, seek to escape the social expectations of strict propriety and live on their own terms. These restrictions of the day are relieved by each developing a double life: Jack becomes Earnest in the city, adopting an entirely new name and disposition, and Algernon becomes a less self-centered, caring friend to his dearest “invalid Bunbury.” When Algernon discovers Jack’s deception, he adopts it as his own, leading to the humorous confusion between Gwendolen and Cecily, who both believe they are connected to the...

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