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Epigrams in The Importance of Being Earnest

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Cassie O'Brien

on 14 June 2013

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Transcript of Epigrams in The Importance of Being Earnest

Casuarina O'Brien
The Importance of Being Earnest
Act 1 - Algernon
Epigrams in...
"Really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them?''
This statement is
amusing because it
showcases Algernon's unwarranted feeling of superiority. As one of the idle rich, critisising the lower classes for not being useful is extremely hypocritical.

It makes use of irony, contrasting reality with
Algy's opinion.
Wilde uses this epigram to expose the hypocrisy of the upper class. His play, written in 1895, was designed as a commentary on the classist society of Victorian England.
Act 3 - Gwendolen
"If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.''
this is humorous because
it showcases Gwendolen's hypocritical nature. Her comment is remarkably paradoxical, as she states that she will only keep her promise of waiting "all her life'' as long as she doesn't have to.
This epigram demonstrates Gwendolen's impatience to have her wishes fulfilled, a trait which is typical of the upper class that Wilde is criticising.

Through her conditional promise, Wilde again exposes the hypocrisy attributed to the Victorian upper class.
What is an epigram?
An epigram is a brief, memorable statement which expresses an idea in a witty or amusing way. They are often surprising and satirical, and always short and sharp.
bon mot
jeu d'esprit
The Purpose
Create Humour
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