The Importance of Being Earnest Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

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How are stock characters used in The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde?  

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Stock characters, by definition, are archetypal and easy-to-identify roles within a work of literature. The role of the stock character can be comparable to the so-called Hollywood "typecast" in that the audience can easily predict what to expect from the character in terms of the value it will bring onto the play. Will it make it funny? Will it make it miserable? The flat, static nature of the stock character is what makes it so "cut and dry," that is, so obvious for the audience to figure out.

A comedy of manners such as The Importance of Being Earnest is almost entirely dependent on these stock characters, because the purpose of the play, itself, is to mock social norms and dynamics. This is done best by criticizing the very people that enable these dynamics to occur: the sanctimonious Victorians of the upper and middle classes.

Enter Oscar Wilde , a born social genius whose unfiltered views of his world earned him many enemies. As one of the best storytellers in the world, his craft was...

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