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Introduction to Humor in Oscar Wilde's "Importance of Being Earnest"

An introduction to Earnest, as well as an introduction to Wilde's style of humor.

Derek Green

on 7 December 2012

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Transcript of Introduction to Humor in Oscar Wilde's "Importance of Being Earnest"

Humor in Oscar Wilde's
"The Importance of Being Earnest" Wilde's satire uses incongruity and turns of phrase to get the humor across... Incongruity Theory
Unanticipated and contradictory turns in a situation or expression cause humor.
Often these turns will be contrary to what is normally expected in the given scene. Linguistic Style
Dialogue which is unconventional and full of incongruities
The audience expects a certain common phrase or saying yet the character ends with something contradictory or unexpected. The Importance of Being Earnest Satire
Lightly pokes fun at society, against Victorian hypocritical and decadent habits
Example: Lady Bracknell The Absurd
Deliberately distorting actuality in order to express a comic vision of the human condition
Use of nonsensensical dialogue FIN The Importance of Being Earnest was published in 1895. It has seen countless stage productions, as well as 3 film adaptations.

The title plays with the word "Earnest" (meaning to be genuine or forthright) and the name "Ernest". Oscar Wilde Born: Dublin, Ireland, 1854
Dorian Grey, 1890
Famous for his witty writing (clever humor and wordplay)
"I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying." Comedy of Manners The Importance of Being Earnest is known as a "comedy of manners." That is, it is a comedic play that ridicules the way groups of people act, speak, and behave. Wilde's Brand of Humor Lady Bracknell,
Gwendolen´s mother and Algy´s aunt Gwendolen. She wants to marry an Ernest Jack (known as Ernest) Cecily´s tutor. He´s a Bunburyist - fictitious brother Algernon ("Algy" for short, known as Ernest by Cecily). He´s a Bunburyist and has a make-believe friend called Bunbury. Cecily. Also wants to marry an Ernest
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