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Dramatic Irony in The Importance in Being Earnest

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Erika matsumoto

on 26 January 2015

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Transcript of Dramatic Irony in The Importance in Being Earnest

What is the difference between the three types of irony?
Verbal: Verbal irony is when someone says something but means the complete opposite of what they said. Ex: Sarcasm

Situational: Situational irony is when something happens or a series of events occur that turn out the opposite from what was intended.
My Thesis
In the play by Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, irony is used to create humor as well as highlight the satire Wilde implemented.

What is dramatic irony?
Dictionary.com says:

Irony that is inherent in speeches or a situation of a drama and is understood by the audience but not grasped by the characters in the play.
"Then a passionate celibacy is all that any of us can look forward to." (page 302. lines 281-282)

This line is said by Jack as Lady Bracknell rejects Gwendolen and Jack's marriage.
This quote drips in sarcasm, as sarcasm is a form of verbal irony.

When we think of a passionate love, most people don't think of celibacy, in fact most people think the exact opposite. It's nearly impossible to have the passionate romance we think of when you're celibate during the relationship.
Irony Oscar Wilde instilled
in the work
The Importance in Being Earnest
Activity Time!
Please get into 3 teams of 4.
Please answer in the form of "What is..." or "Who is..."
The first to hold up their board and answers correctly, wins!
Please have at least 1 The Importance of Being Earnest book for your team.
Yes, there is a reward!!!
Wilde, Oscar.
The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays.
New York: Oxford University Press. Print.
"Jeopardy Rocks." Jeopardy Rocks. Web. 25 Jan. 2015. <http://www.jeopardy.rocks/theimportanceofbeingearnest/>.
I believe that irony, in all its forms, is the biggest contributor to humor and satire. It is the irony that makes us laugh at the characters dilemmas.
Oscar Wilde implements the irony to enhance the satire in this play.
Lady Bracknell criticizes Jack for coming from, what she assumes, is a low and poor family background. Something he cannot control.

What's so ironic about this is that she was in the same situation as he was, yet she still married into wealth and high status. This hypocritical scenario is what makes it so ironic.
"You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter - a girl brought up with the utmost care - to marry into a cloak-room, and form an alliance with a parcel?" (page 267. lines 572-576).

How does this create humor and satire?
We see the characters go through problems that they got into themselves, and we laugh at how they got into these problems on their own terms.
The irony emphasizes the satire and how Oscar Wilde makes fun of the era in which the play takes place.
This scene shows how deceitful these characters are throughout the whole play.

As the audience we watch these characters go through many internal and personal conflicts, while the other characters are oblivious to their situations.
Jack and Algernon creating alternate personas in order to create excuses to the people around them.

This is the biggest and most obvious example of dramatic irony that is seen in the play.
Another example of situational irony
Lady Bracknell is a Victorian Era woman, but Gwendolen is not the typical Victorian Era woman, in fact she's much more of a woman of the Modernism Era. The ideal Victorian woman was quiet and an angel. Gwendolen's character mocks the Victorian era. She is strong--willed, and very outgoing.

In this way, it shows the satire behind it. This situational irony mocks Victorian women, like her mother.
Another example
Another Example
Cecily: "If you are not, then you have been deceiving us all in a very inexcusable manner, I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy."
Algernon: "Oh! Of course I have been rather reckless." (page 275. lines 119-124).

This is an example of verbal irony because he says to Cecily that he was just a little clumsy with how he acted as Earnest. But his true meaning could be seen as being reckless with getting himself into this dilemma.
Gwendolen and Cecily are fighting over who is actually engaged to the man with the name of Earnest.

This is ironic because as the audience, we know neither of them is really named Earnest.
It can also be seen as satire because it's superficial of how they really only pursue the man with the NAME Earnest rather than the man himself.
True love is hard to find in this play as everyone seems to fall in love so quickly and easily and without hesitation.
The lust for the name rather than the person. The ladies only really want the title that he has claimed rather than who he is.
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