Victorian Era Satire: The Importance of being Earnest

To start things off, I absolutely adore satire. Ever since I was young, I loved watching shows that poked fun at age old tropes. A personal favorite of mine from the vault would be Monty Python and the Holy Grail. With its mockery of ancient Arthurian legend, dry British humor, and the soundtrack, I don’t understand how anyone couldn’t enjoy it. If anyone reading this hasn’t seen this classic here are a few examples.

strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government.
Well she turned me into a newt! I got better.
You got my note!

After using these examples as a way to show off my favorite comedy, I will get to the point of the piece. After watching the play “The Importance of being Earnest” I was struck by the similarity to the humor seen within Monty Python. I have never been one to truly enjoy the Victorian Era, with the focus on pomp and family names that are seen within nobility of the time. As someone who always enjoyed legends of lords and ladies on quests, fighting evil, or trying too, the image of Victorian nobility always irritated me.

I think that is why I enjoyed this play so much, its mockery of the way nobles and aristocracy acted during this time period were fantastic. Algernon’s witty phrases about marriage, Jack’s irritation. The two love interests, both of whom, instead of being flawless humans like in many stories, were both strange. I especially was a fan of the way that Cecily had allready gone through the courting process with Earnest, which reminds me of the way that some fans of actors will have fictional relationships with them in their own minds. I guess she could be called a modern day stan.

I think the play mocks the classic Victorian theme of “struggling through a difficult life to achieve your goals” The goal of the two bachelors is obviously just to get married, yet they hardly work hard at all. In fact, they don’t do a single thing, and in the end, it turns out that Jack doesn’t even need to be rechristened. All in all, I think it turns every Victorian notion on its head. Whether this is the idea of class, or if we are looking at the portrayal of women and what they can or cannot do, I think this play does all of the characters well.

In conclusion, I absolutely adored the satire seen in the play, The Importance of being Earnest. I also think that if you only read the play, watching it can provide much more nuance and feeling to what is being watched. Here is the play that I watched, I hope you enjoy the fantastic performance. I think the actor playing Algernon had far to much fun with the role, but anyone who plays that character should.

One thought on “Victorian Era Satire: The Importance of being Earnest

  1. I like how you decided to leave a video of the play at the end of your post. It brings the play to life for me! Sometimes just reading things doesn’t really put an image in my head. Thank you for doing that 🙂


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