What is an example of how the play punctures upper-class phoniness?

Expert Answers

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

At the beginning of the play, we quickly realize that Algernon, though a so-called upper class "gentleman" is actually living above his means. He only gets calls from "family and creditors" and he is seen getting rid of bills brought in the mail by Lane, his manservant.

Equally, when Jack comes in they both discuss aunt Agatha (Lady Bracknell) and how she is yet to prepare another gathering where people are supposed to sit in specific places, meaning that it was to be a grand affair.

We find that Jack and Algy are both leading double lives, and that each is basically using masks with each other as they just find out after who knows how long, that Algernon is "Bunburying" while Jack is "visiting Earnest"

Lady Bracknell by far is the biggest snob. She name-drops, she is elitist, inquired to Jack what are his investments, how many homes he had, and asked him about his family. She was such as snob that he had to reframe his story by specifying to her that, when he was abandoned at a terminus, he was also abandoned at "the Brighton line" *the one who takes you to the expensive areas. He even had to describe the bag to her to convince her, saying that it had "handles, and everything".

Gwendolyn, Bracknell's daughter is a big snob as well. When she meets Cecily, the two have a catty fit in the terrace where Gwen uses her status as "upper class" to tell Cecily that "coffee is not to be found in the city", and that "cake is out of fashion" or something like that.

In the end, all the marriages are dependant on the amount of money each of the partners are to offer and only then could them be "happily ever after"


Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial