Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Act 1

Please post a comment explaining the aspects of society that Wilde mocks in Act 1 (with quotation)


  1. Marriage: "Divorces are made in heaven" This implies that divorce is better than marriage, and helps men escape the horrors of marriage.

    Crime: "I have been writing frantic letters to Scotland Yard about it" This shows that Jack has been reporting petty things to the police such as his missing cigarette case, and not serious crime. It also mocks the upper class's over exaggeration of situations.

    Superiority of the upper class:"You seem to think that every aunt should be like your aunt." This suggests that there are expectations that the upper class should fulfil,and that they are expected to be a certain way. It also illustrates that Jack is mocking Algernon's expectations of others, and suggesting that his expectations are wrong.

    Courting and marriage: "I thought you had come for pleasure?...I call that business." This implies that courtship and marriage is a chore and a burden, and is the opposite of pleasurable.

  2. Of the many aspects of society that Oscar Wilde mocks, one is how women are perceived within the Victorian era; he appears to portray that women are for only simple pleasure and mean little to society in general; they are an extra, never the subject. Moreover, he enjoys the idea of promiscuity, he has a different perception of morals; referring regularly to the idea of mistresses. This is illustrated in what Algernon comments in Act 1: “You don't seem to realise, that in married life three is company and two is none”. This aphorism demonstrates the sheer lack of respect and derogatory values in modern Victorian society, however it gently mocks due to the light tone of the scene. Furthermore due to the fact that Algernon is sincere in his comment, however Jack is insincere in his reaction, the audience would not find this an offending statement. The quote “three is company” means to mock society as it is saying that marriage on its own has little hope of excitement, but with a third party involved, it can quickly become once again enjoyable. Therefore Wilde mocks the idea of double standards in the world of men in Victorian society. For example if women were to ever commit adultery, they would be a social outcast; however it is merely expected of men.

    Grace Julier :)

  3. Wilde mocks various aspects of society in Act 1 however his main cause of ridicule is the double standard between men and women.
    "ALGERNON: The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to someone else, if she is plain."
    This epigram illustrates the derogatory values of women that men were accustomed to in the Victorian era. During this period it was common for married men to take a mistress without feelings of guilt or it being wrong in the eyes of society. From this quote we can infer that Wilde is mocking, not just Algernon but, men in general as it's comedic that men in Victorian society, who are seen as respectable and courteous, are freely available to offend and upset their wives by having affairs, sometimes publicly.

    1. In Act 1, Wilde mocks the education of the different charachters with regard to, seriousness, irony and ignorrence. For Example, Jack says, "im sick to death of cleverness"

      - Megan Greenway

  4. In Act 1 we see Wilde mocking many aspects of the Victorian society; one element that Wilde mocks in Act 1 is women, in the Victorian society woman had very different rules to men, there were a lot of double standards and it seemed women only had one path in life, to marry and have children. We see first see this when Jack and Algernon are talking after Lady Bracknell has left the room, Jack asks Algernon if he thinks Gwendolen will turn out like her mother (lady Bracknell) to which Algernon replies ‘All women become like their mother. That is their tragedy.’ This is an epigram that mocks the Victorian woman, it could be intended to be interpreted as a way of saying that all women turn out the same, and none are interest or exciting and stand out to be different, it could also be interpreted as a way of saying that women have no independence, and that they can only turn into something already there i.e. their mother, not something of their own.

  5. The values of the victorian lifestyle With Lady Bracknells questioning; 'What is your income?' 'How old are you?' 'a man that desires to get married should know either everything or nothing, which do you know?' The multiple questions she uses shows Wilde mocking the values as if they were similar to ticking boxes in a job interview.
    The Upper Class' Priorities with Lady Bracknells questioning again 'Do you smoke?' This is asked before all of her other questions showing that it takes priority over the more typical things such as how old you are. When Lady B is pleased, it exaggerates how odd her priorities are.
    Mens double standards in the form of 'Bunburying' and the fact the women forgive them towards the end of the play shows that 'bunburying' or double standards were something of the norm, which is was, there is also Irony as he mocks double standards but Wilde was known to also, have double standards.

    Chloe Burrows :)

  6. One of the main features of Victorian society that Wilde chooses to mock in Act 1 is a man’s ability to lead a double life as if it is the normal thing to do:
    “A man who marries without knowing Bunbury has a very tedious time of it.”
    This seems to imply that not only does Algernon, a stereotypical man of the era, consider Jack’s double life as Ernest and Jack acceptable, but he also believes that to part with his alter ego for the sake of marriage is a huge mistake on Jack’s part. Wilde mocks this aspect of society by the use of the word ‘tedious’, suggesting that despite Jack’s enthusiasm to marry Gwendolen, a double life (or ‘Bunburying’) would have been a way to escape the boredom and captivity of a marriage, possibly reflecting other men’s views on the matter in the Victorian era. This contrasts heavily with the theme of marriage within the play, as it seems that while a man would be eager to become a husband, he was able to do so while also leading a double life and still being considered a respectable man in society.

  7. In Act 1, Wilde mocks certain aspects of society, such as women in the Victorian era, judging them to be of lower importance compared to men.
    "The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to someone else if she is plain."
    This epigram implies that women seemed to be valued less, yet it also mocks men's double standards, as they appear to get away with having affairs with other women without regret, and are more free to do as they please.

  8. In Act 1, Wilde mocks the society he lives in by mocking marriage and the roles of women at the time.
    "I thought you had come up for pleasure? I call that business."
    "Divorces are made in heaven"
    These epigrams show that being in love is a chore and more like a task than feelings it shows that men see women as a typical burden and are the opposite of pleasurable.
    It also shows that divorce is an easy way out of married life as divorce is easier than having to live with a idiotic woman as in Wilde's day they were nothing more than a trophy to men.

  9. In Act One, Wilde mocks society by using ridiculous accusations about how Jack was found.
    "A hand-bag?"
    "In the cloakroom at Victoria Station. It was given to him as a mistake for his own."
    Wilde is using ridiculous accusations to mock the upper class society of the time, this is because even though Lady Bracknell is asking Jack questions, Jack is dedicated to gain her respect so he tells the truth. The answer that Lady Bracknell gives to jack after saying he was found in a handbag was "A hand-bag?", Lady Bracknell repeats the statement which shows how upper class the Victorian era is and how the upper class do not show there respects when someone is telling the truth. Wilde then goes on to mock society even more by making jack say he was found in a handbag at Victoria Station, this mocks the rail industry of the time and how organized it was in Wilde's day. He dose this by adding on the end, "It was given to him as a mistake for his own.". This shows that Wilde has had a bad experience with Victoria Stations organisation and this is why he mocks the train station. He is also mocking the upper class because Jack saying he was found in Victoria Station is impelling that even though he was found in a hand-bag, it was a hand-bag in a considered upper class train station.

  10. In Act 1 of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ Wilde mocks the Victorian society in many ways.
    Wilde shows through his play how men were like in the Victorian time:
    “Yes, but men often propose for practice. I know my brother Gerald does. All my girl-friends tell me so.”
    This shows how men in the Victorian era had the freedom of doing anything. Wilde uses this line to mock the society because men in that society were allowed to propose to any girl they want even if it meant that they are just doing that for practice and not really proposing to that girl.
    Wilde also mocks society by showing how important women were at that time:
    “Pardon me, you are not engaged to anyone. When you do become engaged to someone, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact.”
    This implies that in the Victorian society women had no right to choose who they get married to, where as men were allowed to propose to anyone they like.
    Wilde also mocks the social status value of the Victorian society through the Act 1 of this play:
    “I would strongly advise you, Mr Worthing, to try and acquire some relations as soon as possible, and to make a definite effort to produce at any rate one parent, of either sex, before the season is quite over.”
    This show that in the Victorian society to have some status a person strongly requires a high status background and if you don’t have that no matter how eligible or intelligent or rich you are no one in from a high status background will like to form any relations with you.

    Sadia Sami

  11. In Act 1, Wilde mocks many aspects of the Victorian society including the ridiculous double standards for men and their views on marriage. Algernon is a clear symbol for this throughout the play with his nonsense views on marriage "The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to someone else if she is plain", "if you ever get married, it seems to me extremely problematic" and his strong feelings towards men's authority and freedom during that time "Nothing will induce me to part with Bunbury". This shows how women were seen as lesser beings to men and that many Victorian men were very self involved and inconsiderate. Wilde also shows how women of that time were weak and timid not only in the eyes of men, but through their actions because of Gwendolen and Cecily's forgiving nature at the end of the play.
    - Verity Wilson

  12. Act 1 sets the mood for the play to come; frivolous and trivial exchanges between Algernon and Jack eventually reveal an invented pastime of Algernon's; "Bunburying" (the act of maintaining two different identities in two different locations) and Lady Bracknell -- whose characterisation is yet another caricature of Victorian society -- arrives in the second part, flaunting her manner in such a way that can only be intended to further the audience's ridicule of the upper classes.

    The way in which characters speak is so blatantly ridiculous that it instantly alerts the audience to the mockery. "I am greatly distressed, Aunt Augusta, about there being no cucumbers, not even for ready money" exclaims Algernon, while Jack admits he has been writing "frantic letters" to Scotland yard about his missing cigarette case. "I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance" seems to sum up Lady Bracknell's entire temperament in Act 1. Indeed, she most solemnly declares that she believes it is "high time Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or die". This act uses mock triviality to expose real triviality within the society.

    Further analysis shows the setting of standards for the play; that is, double standards. Both Jack and Algernon are shown to be keen "Bunburyists", thus mimicking and mocking the double standards of the archetypal Victorian male. The proposal of Jack to Gwendolen is entirely reversed; it was expected, at the time of setting, that the man should propose to the women, yet here Jack is seen stumbling over his own words, and Gwendolen has to correct him, even asking him to repeat the proposal properly. As the play develops, so does the theme of double standards and societal expectations, yet it is definitely in Act 1 that they are born into the dialogue.

  13. Danielle Megarity8 October 2012 at 11:54

    Throughout Act 1 Wilde mocks the upper classes through his use of aphorisms and epigrams alongside the occasional pun and/or witty comment. In the early pages of the play it first begins.
    "JACK: Do you mean to say that you have had my cigarette case all this time? I wish to goodness you had let me know. I have been writing frantic letters to Scotland Yard about it. I was very nearly offered a large reward for it."
    It can clearly be seen that Wilde is mocking the upper classes because of his choice in wording for Jack. "I have been writing frantic letters to Scotland Yard about it." This could be seen in various different perspectives. Firstly it could be inferred that the character of Jack is trying to seem posh to impress Algernon as he is the nephew of a lady. This would be gently mocking the upper classes as it would show a generalisation of the stereotype that because the upper classes are wealthier they are more likely to become a priority to Scotland Yard over trivial things that may not have even been a crime. Wilde has made this a joke as it is such an extravagant reaction to such an unimportant thing, it is possible that Wilde is implying that the upper classes are overly extravagant in many aspects of their life, for example the social season –which Wilde began to mock within the first two pages of the act. This interpretation can further supported by the way Wilde chooses to have Jack say “goodness” a bizarre choice that seems irrelevant without this interpretation in mind. Another perspective may be that Wilde is having Jack mock the upper class, possibly by having him repeat the line in a heavily sarcastic tone as he mocks Algernon’s class background. A final interpretation would be that Wilde generally believes that he has made Jack present himself in a manner that is reflective of the upper classes behaviour.