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Word Count: 1,459
In the late-nineteenth-century play The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde satirizes the society in which he lived which is now called the Victorian period This period of the reign of Queen Victoria is characterized by British imperialism and growing power of its empire extravagance in every aspect of life aestheticism and decadence Societys values were saturated with indulgence and exaggeration It was a time of political upheaval tension between the classes and massive poverty People wore extravagant costumes over-decorated their houses spent money frivolously and flaunted whatever they could Wilde mocks this society of superficial morals and conventions The actions and words of the characters in The Importance of Being Earnest represent the shallow values and frivolity that was common then He achieves satire by undermining Victorian conventions as the play progresses He makes use of dialogue among characters and stereotyping and creates a discrepancy between appearance and reality He also allows the peoples imaginary lives to become real at the end of the play instead of destroying them Wilde uses the characters in the play to mimic the superficiality and triviality of the typical extravagant lifestyle He exaggerates it to the highest degree It is difficult to find parts of the play that are not mocking some aspect At one point in the play Jack ridicules Algernon for eating calmly at an inappropriate time How can you sit there calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble I cant make out You seem to me to be perfectly heartless 623 Algernon also reveals Jacks foolishness in mourning for his imaginary brother He says he looks perfectly ridiculous 614 and says it is perfectly childish 614 All of the characters point out each others faults which are more than often extravagances indulgences and weaknesses This continuous undermining breaks down the Victorian conventions that Wilde is condemning Many other aspects of the play also contribute to Wildes purpose He uses stereotypes to further
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