The Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest and The Satire on The Establishment of Social Elite in Early Modern England College

Composed by Oscar Wilde to be first played at the St. James Theatre of London in the year of 1895, The Importance of Being Ernest has since named itself one notable satire among the blooming era of comedies that dwell on the hypocrisy of the upper class and the court society in Early Modern England. Yet, more than employing the mockery towards the English upper class, Oscar Wilde rhetorically provided his audience, through a reversed lens, a versatile picture of the establishment of such hierarchy and how such a small privileged community was constructed in order to maintain this hierarchy in a fashionable and undeniable manner. A profound understanding of this social structure, in return, indicates a chance for the oppressed and less fairly treated groups to retaliate by recognizing their ‘Achilles heel’ like the way Wilde used literature, one of the elite’s main method of self-maintenance itself, to satirically attack them with his comedy.

An initial definition of this power elite is given by Norbert Elias in his book The Court Society, which conforms with the portrayals of Wilde’s characters in The Importance of Being Ernest:

At such a ‘court’ hundreds and often thousands of people were bound together in one place by...

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