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Word Count: 2,118
Oscar Wilde creates a successful complex comedy by maintaining consistent conflict and contradiction in the action dialogue and characters of The Importance of Being Ernest Dramatic or comedic action is essentially exaggerated conflict Wilde preserves the conflict between what is and what should be important in every interaction That which is most trivial is treated with the most sincerity and vice versa This reversal is his greatest contradiction and fundamental tool as a writer of comedies By portraying the upper class a group of people characteristically trivial in their social conventions his exaggerations are close enough to reality to be convincing Etiquette places importance on petty details that seem even sillier when they replace more important concerns This does not mean however that his play is restricted to social commentary He is using the inherent triviality of social intercourse as a dramatic vehicle In the first meeting of Cecily and Gwendolen the conversation and stage directions provide both contradiction and conflict It is when they should be the most emotional that they are the most restrained When the two women discover that they are both engaged to Ernest Worthing Gwendolen responds quite politely rising and Cecily follows very politely rising They speak meditatively or thoughtfully and sadly about becoming enemies and being lied to by their shared lover They remain within the boundaries of politesse becoming more polite as they get increasingly angry referring to each other as Miss Cardew and Miss Fairfax Just when it seems there will be an emotional confrontation tea is served and calmly shared What is important when Cecily offers tea is that Gwendolen hates her now calling her detestable girl However it is clear that what she feels should be important to her is her social obligation as she says but I require tea 1655 After Jack and Algernon have confessed their crimes and lost their engagements they calmly discuss the disaster they have caused They argue mildly about
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