The Importance of Being Earnest Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

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In The Importance of Being Earnest, how does Oscar Wilde use symbolism in his social commentary?

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The symbolism that we find in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being  Earnest is mostly situated around the items that constitute the different ways in which Jack and Algernon indulge in their double lives. One of these symbols is food, as well as its extravagant and careless consumption.

We find that both Algernon and Jack's alter ego, Ernest, have a penchant for over-indulging at expensive restaurants only to leave the bills unpaid for.This causes in Jack a sense of joy, as if being "bad" was a goal of his. This is significant because Ernest (when in the country living as Jack) is a model of good manners and responsibility, as he is in charge of the manor entailed to him by his adoptive father, and because he is also in charge of Cecily, who is his ward.

Therefore, food is a door to freedom for Jack and Algernon that shows extravagance at its best: Run bills, enjoy your meals, and do not pay. That is the life of the true so-called rich in Victorian England: A group of people that lead...

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