Although The Importance of Being Earnest is now Oscar Wilde's most famous play, it is not characteristic of his work as a playwright and marked a new departure for him. Wilde's other social comedies contain plenty of epigrams, but they also make an attempt to address social ills directly, in the same vein as the Shavian "problem play." One of his most frequent themes was sexism, particularly the way in which a hypocritical society judged men and women by different standards. In an interview published in the Sketch in January 1895, Wilde indicated the new direction The Importance of Being Earnest was to take:
Several plays have been written lately that deal with the monstrous injustice of the social code of morality at the present time. It is indeed a burning shame that there should be one law for men and another law for women. I think that there should be no law for anybody.
The subtitle of Earnest is a warning of much the same type. The play is trivial in the sense that it does not deal directly...
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