Help writing a thesis for The Importance of Being Earnest?I have to write an essay about the use of humor in the play. I feel like humor is used to mock modern day society or something like that?...

Help writing a thesis for The Importance of Being Earnest?

I have to write an essay about the use of humor in the play. I feel like humor is used to mock modern day society or something like that? Am i somewhat on track? and i need help writing a thesis any help is appreciated!

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Humor (especially ironic humor) is definitely used to poke fun at the upper class in this play.  For example, in the first act, "Ernest" reveals that his real name is Jack and that he has only invented Ernest, a fictitious younger brother, so that he can come to town and pretend to be him because living a moral life in the country is just too boring.  He tells Algernon,

When one is placed in the position of guardian, one has to adopt a very high moral tone on all subjects.  It's one's duty to do so.  And as a high moral tone can hardly be said to conduce very much to either one's health or one's happiness, in order to get up to town I have always pretended to have a younger brother of the name of Ernest, who lives in the Albany [Hotel], and gets into the most dreadful scrapes.

Not coincidentally, Algernon has also invented a fictional invalid friend named Bunbury so that he can escape the dreadful dinner parties hosted by his Aunt Augusta.  So, although both of these men pretend to be upstanding, honest folks in public, they are both liars who are not at all "earnest."  This humorous irony demonstrates the incredible double standards of the Victorian elite.  Further, despite the play's title, none of the characters are very earnest, and they wouldn't end up happily coupled in the end if they were: it is actually their dishonesty that brings them together!

Therefore, if you are going to write a thesis that addresses this topic, you might go with something like this: In The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde employs humor in order to point out the hypocrisy of the upper class as well as to demonstrate that complete earnestness is not actually vital to one's happiness.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A good thesis involving the use of humor in Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest would be that the play's use of mockery and irony is meant to publicly ridicule the self-loving attitude of the Victorian upper classes as well as to expose their hypocrisy, lack of intelligence, and ridiculous social behaviors.

If you use that as a thesis for your paper, then you would be able to expand how the behaviors of Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen, and Algernon show double standards, elitism, and snobbery in such an accentuated way that it results in a myriad of silly and funny situations.

Therefore, yes, you are on the right track. Use the idea of the thesis statement as a way to guide and focus your argument. I hope it works for you.

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The Importance of Being Earnest

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