The Importance of Being Earnest

Deceiving Appearances in The Importance of Being Earnest and Arms and The Man 12th Grade

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde and Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw are both satirical plays meant to criticize Victorian society and war, respectively. While both plays were written by Irish authors familiar with London and both were first performed in London in the 1890s, The Importance of Being Earnest is set in and focused on London and Arms and the Man is focused on Eastern Europe. Oscar Wilde had to hide his homosexuality from the judgment of Victorian society, leading him to mock this society in The Importance of Being Earnest. For his part, George Bernard Shaw lived through many wars and, although he wasn’t a true pacifist, he only believed in truly necessary wars. The deep influence that the authors’ respective life struggles had on their work directly translates into the satire found in both works. This satire is achieved through the actions of the characters, most importantly those of Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being Earnest and Raina Petkoff in Arms and the Man. The overarching idea that appearances are deceiving is present in both works and advanced through the actions of these two characters. Cecily concerns herself with the deceptive appearance of the man she “loves” while Raina...

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