The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

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Please analyze the following quotation from The Importance of Being Earnest: Algernon: "Really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them"

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From a literary and historical perspective, Algernon is in part referring to a common 19th century tendency of the middle classes to adopt a policy of what is called "Grundyism". Grundyism is perspective of life that argues how all things must be virtuous, prudish, conventional, and "in proper order".

Mrs. Grundy, from which the term "Grundyism" is originated, is the main character of Thomas Morton's Speed the Plough (1798). Her behavior and description epitomized the very values  that Queen Victoria's encouraged her subjects to follow: family, tradition, religion, virtuosity, and righteousness.

In a letter to the St. James's Gazette penned in 1890, Oscar Wilde defended his homoerotic novel *by then, a story* The Picture of Dorian...

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