The Importance of Being Earnest Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Explain Algernon as mouthpiece of Oscar Wilde in the play The Importance of Being Earnest?

Expert Answers info

M.P. Ossa, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer, ESL/TEFL Instructor

bookM.A. from Chapman University

calendarEducator since 2008

write5,705 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business

First staged in 1895, The Importance of Being Earnest is Oscar Wilde's most successful play. Out of a total of four comedies of manners staged within a period of 3 years, Ernest stands out of the rest in terms of dialogue, particularly in the many epigrams and paradoxes contained in it. Algernon Moncrief is one of the most active voices in the play, speaking out against the so-called Victorian virtues, thus serving as Wilde's mouthpiece. 

Let's look at the historical context of the play to best understand the purpose of Algernon as a mouthpiece. Wilde's London was quite divided at the time that Wilde became popular...and notorious. While Wilde was a chum of the upper and aristocratic classes, precisely because of his eccentric behavior and unique views of life, the middle-class Victorians classified him as immoral, "dangerous" (due to his underlying homosexuality), and wanted to make of him a social pariah, succeeding at the end by bringing Wilde to justice for acts of "gross indecency"....

(The entire section contains 573 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial