The Importance of Being Earnest Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

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In the play The Importance of Being Earnest, explain the theme of "the dandy" (Wilde as Algernon).

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In order to understand the character of Algernon Moncrieff, one must first understand the concept of dandyism, its origins, and its role in literature.

Victorians witnessed the advent of the middle class as a powerful socioeconomic stratum in which individuals could earn their way to the riches that once were exclusive to the aristocratic classes. The growth of industrialization propelled new types of jobs, and more people were earning a good living from the benefits that came as a result of the creation of many new sources of work.

Meanwhile, those who had acquired their riches through inheritances, or family names, noticed how their own funds were decreasing since the increase in population and businesses made life in London quite expensive.

Interestingly, the upper classes would not budge and stuck strongly to their pride as well as to their supposed "rights" as aristocrats to still be placed on a social "pedestal". An example of this in the play can be seen in...

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