How does food play a role in The Importance of Being Earnest?

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The nearest thing to a method that can be found in The Importance of Being Earnest is Wilde's determination to turn every social convention and popular precept on its head. Languishing young lovers are supposed to refuse all sustenance and pine away, so Wilde's characters, of course, do the exact opposite. Algernon even states this as a general principle:

When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. Indeed, when I am in really great trouble, as any one who knows me intimately will tell you, I refuse everything except food and drink. At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins.

It is the ingredients of afternoon tea: muffins, crumpets, cucumber sandwiches and cake which play the largest part in the three-act version of The Importance of Being Earnest which is now most often performed. The continual mention of such foods help to create the impression of a fantastical land of the lotus-eaters "In which it...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1092 words.)

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Last Reviewed by eNotes Editorial on January 3, 2020
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