The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

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How are love and marriage treated in The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde?

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In the play, love and marriage are treated as fodder for jokes. We typically think of things like marriage as being serious subjects, but one of the ways that Oscar Wilde creates humor in the play is by treating serious subjects in this ironic and unexpected way. At one point, Lane tells his employer, Algernon,

I have only been married once. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young person.

As though one could get married by accident! Moreover, what kind of misunderstanding could result in a wedding? Getting married is not as simple as tripping over one's feet!

Later, when Jack tells Algernon that "pleasure" brought him to town and that he intends to propose marriage to Gwendolen, Algernon says,

I thought you had come up for pleasure? . . . I call that business.

Here, he expresses his belief that there is nothing romantic about one proposing marriage because "one may be accepted [. . .] Then the excitement is all over." To refer to a marriage proposal as being...

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