The Importance of Being Earnest Opening

In: English and Literature

Submitted By jessicamortimer
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The Importance of Being Earnest Draft
The opening scene of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ establishes the play as a Comedy of Manners as Wilde as immediately introduces some of the key ideas behind his satire of the middle classes, for example triviality and a lack of moral values.
The setting of a flat on Half Moon Street immediately gives a sense of affluence. The description of the furniture with the adverbs ‘luxuriously and artistically’ deliberately focuses on aesthetic and makes no reference to substance or function, which reflects the superficiality of the upper classes whom Wilde will be satirising throughout the play. This introduces a sense of decorous pretence, which creates the perfect mood for Wilde’s comedy of manners.
Algernon’s initial dialogue is a conglomerate of puns which immediately establishes him as a comical character and the archetype of the upper class bachelor. This is essential as Algernon is central to Wilde’s comedy of manners as he exemplifies the frivolity and hypocrisy of the upper classes, which Wilde will be satirising throughout the play.
‘…I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte.’
The use of the word ‘forte’ here is punning and ironical, as it can mean both a speciality, and a technique used by musicians in which the volume is increased to emphasise emotion. While Algernon did indeed play loudly, he claims ‘sentiment is my forte’, which is a reversal of the purpose of the musical technique: he did not utilise volume to portray emotion, but rather he let his playing be totally dictated by his own emotions. This negates the use of the word ‘forte’ to mean a speciality, as he does not even understand how to play the instrument properly. This pun is used by Wilde to aggravate his Victorian audience, who viewed the skill of playing the piano to be a staple of the higher…...

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