Why is industrialism an important theme/issue in Victorian literature? How is this (industrialism) portrayed in The Importance of Being Earnest?

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Although the Industrial Revolution in England began before Queen Victoria took the throne, its impact on people’s everyday lives was just being understood when she was crowned in 1837. Throughout history, major technological changes, like the Industrial Revolution, have had a profound influence on the contemporary literature of the time. This is certainly the case with Victorian literature.

In The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, the Industrial Revolution is not an explicit part of the plot, which focuses on John “Jack” Worthing, who has an alter ego named Ernest, and his plot to marry Gwendolen, who adores his fake moniker.

The way that the Industrial Revolution does factor into the story is how it made London a thriving center of urban life, which stands in sharp contrast to the English countryside where Worthing lives full time. In the country, Worthing is a straight-laced, proper gentleman, but when he visits London, he becomes the libertine personality Ernest. This suggests that the country is associated with morality, while the city represents the opposite. Thus, industrialization is correlated with a moral decay of sorts among the people who are most directly affected by it.

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