The Importance of Being Earnest Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

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Discuss Wilde's use of Epigram in The Importance of being Earnest.

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Wilde also uses epigrams to develop characterization. Almost as soon as the play begins, Algernon tells his butler, Lane, "As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life." Such a line makes Algernon appear ridiculous, and rightly so, because he is ridiculous, in many ways. To say that he only exercises sentiment, or feeling, while he plays the piano and not while he lives his actual life, and that he exercises science in life instead, makes no real sense. Algernon is comprised of such nonsensical opinions.

When Jack comes over, shortly after, he tells Algernon, "When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people. It is excessively boring." How can one be both amused and bored at the same time? They cannot both be true! Jack is not honest, and he's rather hypocritical: expecting honesty from others but himself engaging in deceptive behaviors.

Wilde also uses epigrams to poke fun at, for example, marriage and moral...

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