The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde is classified as a comedy of manners. What are examples that prove this classification?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A comedy of manners is a satire of the mannerisms and behaviors of contemporary society. The joke behind the comedy of manners is the characters' preoccupation with the proper social behavior expected of them. Think of a play where everyone exaggerates the way they talk and conduct themselves in order to "look the part" of being rich and sophisticated. This is the humor that Wilde and his contemporaries wanted to achieve, and it is what makes the comedy of manners so popular, especially during the Victorian times.

In The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde expertly mocks the self-absorbed upper-middle classes of his generation. In Lady Bracknell, for example, we find a woman with a questionable past whose very convenient marriage has rendered her not only a "lady" but also an arrogant, thoughtless creature who only focuses on appearance and money.

The things she says are evidence of such behavior:

“To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 909 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team