The Master of the Epigram
Oscar Wilde, a playwright and humorist of the Victorian era, courted laughter from the very society he both mocked and fully participated in. Wilde playfully exposed the excesses and pettiness of the upper class, although it was never without affection. From his works emerge stereotypes of his era, affording readers a peek into life in a set class. In the excerpt, the audience becomes acquainted with the personalities and activities of some of the play’s main characters.
Read the excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s highly regarded play The Importance of Being Earnest , and consider the following questions.
- What societal “types” does the author seem to be dealing with?
- How does language and dialogue enhance this portrayal?
- How does the author balance humor and avoid complete mockery or cruelty?
- Why is this important?