The Importance Of Being Earnest: Act 2

1111 words - 5 pages

The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 2
In The Importance of Being Earnest, almost every character is in pursuit of another; Jack is in pursuit of Gwendolen’s love, whom is in pursuit of Jack, who she believes is Ernest. Meanwhile in the country, Dr Chausible is in pursuit of Miss Prism’s love, and Cecily of Algernon’s love; similarly to Gwendolen’s situation, Cecily is fooled into believing Algernon is called Ernest. Wilde has created this situation to mock the upper class of the time and also uses it in various ways to build comedy throughout act 2.
Within act 2, the audience witness many entrances and exits, one of the most significant from the Merriman during the dispute between ...view middle of the document...

In reference to the play, this could suggest that women were more in control, including in the pursuit of love between man and woman. To support this point, at the end of act 2 we see Jack and Algernon both admit they have ‘made arrangements with Dr Chausible to be christened…under the name of Ernest’. From earlier in the play, we know that both Gwendolen and Cecily prefer the name Ernest and don’t like Jack and Algernon’s original names, implying that the woman is in control as, Jack and Algernon only want to be christened under Ernest to impress Gwendolen and Cecily.
The language used in act 2 could be seen as one of the most explicit ways Wilde mocks the upper class in the play. As a result of the Ernest-related complications, Jack decides he wants to be christened under the name Ernest, so he supposes that Dr Chausible ‘knows how to christen all right?’. He later states that he would like to be christened in the ‘afternoon, if [Dr Chausible has] nothing better to do’ and offers to ‘trot around at about five’ to be christened. Such colloquial and conversational language suggests Jack regards christening as nothing more than an errand that he must do as a quick way out of his lies. It also suggests that matters of the Church including marriage and death are not important to him. Relating to this, the manner in which Jack tries to quickly get rid of Ernest builds comedy within the play as it suggests that him and many of the characters believe that you are completely in control of when you die. An example of one of these characters being Miss Prism, who believes that Ernest ‘will profit’ from being dead and states ‘as a man sows, so shall he reap’, emphasising that she believed Ernest essentially deserved to ‘die’.
Wilde uses farce regularly throughout the play, especially between Cecily and Gwendolen; the girls are friendly towards each other at first, with Gwendolen certain that they ‘are going to be great friends’ within the first minute of meeting Cecily. Then, when they discover they are supposedly engaged to the same man, they turn on each other. However, what makes this scene...

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