Satire is a genre of literature in which devices like irony, wit, and sarcasm are used to mock a group of people, a particular social class perhaps, an entire country, unjust laws, and so forth, with the intention of drawing attention to problems and provoking change. Satire can be harsh and acerbic (called Juvenalian), or it can be lighter and more indulgent (called Horatian). One of the major ways in which Wilde satirizes the upper classes in this Horatian satire is by pointing out their lack of morality, despite their insistence on maintaining the appearance of it. In act 2, Miss Prism says of Jack Worthing
his gravity of demeanour is especially to be commended in one so comparatively young as he is. I know no one who has a higher sense of duty and responsibility . . . . Idle merriment and triviality would be out of place in his conversation. You must remember his constant anxiety about that unfortunate young man his brother.
However, unbeknownst to Miss Prism or Cecily, Jack's young...
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