How does Oscar Wilde look down upon the country in The Importance of Being Earnest?
The theme of "country life versus city life" is a resounding topic in Victorian comedies of manner, such as The Importance of Being Earnest. A comedy of manner is a piece of written literature that presents the main features of the diverse social classes, and overexaggerates them in order to produce a joke.
The play The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, illustrates the different lifestyles of two types of dandies: London city man Algernon Montcrief, and country estate man Jack Worthing. Both men's stories present their views on love, life, extravagance, and fun under the scope of what society allows, and disallows. However, they are actually very similar characters. It is later on that we see the argument between the lifestyles.
Act 2, Scene 2 of the play presents a clearer picture of the differences between the classes with an argument between the two main female characters, Cecily (a country girl), and Gwendolen (a city girl).
Since both women believe that they are engaged to marry the same man, they begin a cat-fight of subtle insults based on their lifestyles. Part of their argument goes, in part:
Gwendolen. [Looking round.] Quite a well-kept garden this is, Miss Cardew.
Cecily. So glad you like it, Miss Fairfax.
Gwendolen. I had no idea there were any flowers in the country.
Cecily. Oh, flowers are as common here, Miss Fairfax, as people are in London.
Gwendolen. Personally I cannot understand how anybody manages to exist in the country, if anybody who is anybody does. The country always bores me to death.
Cecily . Ah! This is what the newspapers call agricultural...
(The entire section contains 543 words.)
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