The Importance of Being Earnest Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

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What elements of Restoration comedy are seen in The Importance of Being Earnest?

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Synonymous with the term "Restoration comedy" is the phrase "comedy of manners." A comedy of manners is one in which the manners of a particular social group, usually the upper class, are satirized and mocked. We can see how Wilde's play, The Importance of Being Earnest, does this. For example, the upper class is supposed to be the class that maintains a high moral tone to set the good example for the lower orders, who are thought to be more prone to moral laxity. However, the play exposes this appearance as a sham: Algernon has invented a Mr. Bunbury, an invalid friend whose constant illness often gets Algernon out of obligations he has no wish to keep, and Jack has invented a dissolute brother named Ernest so that he can go to the city and behave badly using a different persona than his own—he can maintain his claims to morality while behaving badly as Ernest. The upper class's pretensions are revealed.

Further, another element of Restoration comedy entailed a rejection of...

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