The Importance of Being Earnest Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest book cover
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In "The Importance of being Earnest", Oscar Wilde is distant from his characters. Why doesn't he give a deep psychological profile? Does it have to do with the fact that it is a satire/farce/comedy so the audience should not identify with the protagonists?

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mikkiblack eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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You are on the right track with your secondary question: Wilde characterization choices are directly tied to the fact that The Importance of Being Earnest is a satirical piece.

However, Wilde's goal was not necessarily to keep the reader from identifying with the protagonists.  The goal of any satire or parody is to point out something that the author feels needs correcting.  In this case, Wilde is mocking his own society and the way that people actually were acting towards each other.  Through hyperbole and wit, Wilde is using his flat characters to point out the fact that real people need to avoid the calamity of being flat themselves: they should think and do and feel and learn and develop and grow!

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