The Importance of Being Earnest Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

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Satire In The Importance Of Being Earnest

What does Wilde satirize in The Importance of Being Earnest?

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The title of the play helps us understand what Wilde is satirizing or poking fun at. For starters, he is skewering middle-class hypocrisies about domestic bliss; one of the confusions about talking about the Victorian British "middle class" is that these are people we today would consider, on the whole, wealthy. Middle-class Victorians, at least in public, paid an immense lip service to "earnestness" or sincerity, often typified as a sentimental dedication to home and hearth, while at the same time, as the play indicates, often leading double lives. In fact, Algernon asserts that all married British men lead double lives, meaning they all have a life on the side that their wives are unaware of. Jack and Algernon themselves have double lives to the extent they have invented imaginary alter egos named Ernest and Bunbury. As it happens, both Jack and Algernon pretend to be Jack's imaginary brother Ernest: the irony (and satire on earnestness) is that both of them show their lack of complete...

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