The Play “The Importance of Being Earnest,” helps us to understand the social classes that existed during the Victorian era. The Victorian era of England occurred during the reign of Queen Victoria starting from the year 1937 to 1901. The play was written by Oscar Wilde and put on stage in 1895. By closely reading it, we realize that there lower classes have been represented by Lane, Merriman, Miss, and others while Lady Bracknell has presented the upper classes. It is through these characters that we learn that during the Victorian reign men as well as women were out to look for ideal relationships based on what was expected of them in such a demanding community. “Nothing will induce me to part with Bunbury, and if you ever get married, which seems to me extremely problematic, you will be very glad to know Bunbury. A man who marries without knowing Bunbury has a very tedious time of it.” (Oscar, 184).
The readers can also appreciate the impact that the high expectations had on the characters, particularly men. Oscar Wild checks how unrealistic the society put some expectations on people by showing how rejecting regardless of a potential spouse or the community at large can result to deceit as well as one leading a double life as a measure of adapting in such a society. “Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.” (Oscar, 166).
From the play, we also learn that during the Victorian period there was a high value for respect as well as reputation. This can be seen in the way Algernon says, “My dear fellow, the way you flirt with Gwendolen is perfectly disgraceful. It is almost padded as the way Gwendolen flirts with you” (Oscar, 35).
- Wilde, Oscar. The importance of being earnest. A&C Black, 2014.