The Use of Satire to “Explode” The Social World

Paper Info
Page count 3
Word count 870
Read time 3 min
Topic Literature
Type Essay
Language 🇺🇸 US

In his widely performed work titled The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde provides the creation of its period, an artistic tribute to the tenets of the beautiful movement. It was first performed in 1895 during a period famously labeled as fin de siècle – a French phrase that plainly refers to the finish of a century. In the play, the author applies satire to portray a comedy simply for entertaining drives. Wilde employs different techniques such as sarcasm, jokes, and trickery to cast satirical limelight on the Victorian period predominantly characterized by stringent cultural norms, increased wealth, and improved political stability.

First, the author satirizes his viewers-turned-audience to shed more light on the occurrences in the Victorian era. His work illuminates various events happening in society in which the significance of remaining sincere is not an exclusion. The Victorian period outlined strict moral requirements that guided behavior in the public domain. Specifically, individuals were required to show the proper manner in the community. However, Wilde satirizes this Victorian ideal, particularly when he reveals the hypocrisy behind proper behavior required in the public. Through his versatile characters, Wilde demonstrates that although it is decent to manifest suitable conduct, similar individuals incline to digress from honorable codes when alone. Explicitly, Algernon and Jack depict less than ethical manners when they falsify their identities to attract the attention of city ladies who are infatuated by the forenames. For instance, Jack masquerades as Earnest when in the city and as Jack when in the countryside.

Second, Wilde ridicules the audience who deeply desired to have solemn lives but inversely accomplished double morality. The notion of earnestness during the Victorian epoch was of immense prominence. Undeniably, it was an esteemed thought used to label persons regarded as showing tenacity in life, those striving to attain certain goals while strictly conforming to the laid down moral principles. Therefore, solemnity was a commendable designation for people demonstrating self-denial, self-respectability, and self-control. While some people chose a double life to uphold the respect of the conventional Victorian society, they also tend to live frivolously to satiate their wishes. For instance, Jack and Algy survive by living and lying as Earnest charlatans since they need to attain moral liberty. Cecily also leads a double standard life when she envisages being already married to Earnest. Questionably, it is palpable that individuals had no freedom in living free lives anchored in no severe moral ideals.

Third, Wilde mocks Victorian individuals who have no decent approach to leaving the cocoon of the lean social ideals and ties than living dual and deceptive lives. For instance, Gwendolen is cognizant of the principles that have been published in pulpits and monthly expensive magazines. It is an aspiration to disentangle from the social disguise and plunge into secret pleasures that Algernon and Jack frame as fictional characters. For example, Jack Worthington is a reputable judge of peace but cheats on having a younger sibling, Earnest. Consequently, Jack rationalizes his reasons for regular visits to the city to salvage his naughty brother from varied problems. Algernon also prefers traveling to the countryside to evade dinner arrangements with the aunt since such engagements showed a perfect family life and were taken earnestly. These actions are indications that the majority of the Victorian persons were merely bound by social ties but behaved differently while away from the public.

In addition, Wilde makes jokes to his audience while entertaining them through his all-around characters. For instance, the author remains critical about the marriage of expediency that intrinsically connects with the notion of sincerity. Marriage and love were essential elements of the Victorian period and families not only remain authoritarian but also patriarchal with the selection of a spouse remaining a preserve of one parent’s responsibility. Moreover, the decision to reach a marriage consensus was also guided by mutual benefits of social and economic exchange. The companionate union was a Victorian moral and love remained a vital aspect of marriage. Wilde circuitously teases the audience for staying blindfolded by pursuing seriousness. Instead of getting genuine love, the Victorian people are duped simply by material possession and the name Earnest. Gwendolen admits to Jack that she intended to love him when Algernon stated that he has a pal called Earnest. For Gwendolen, the name Earnest remains highly appealing and would love someone with that appellation.

In conclusion, Wilde’s play is a satire of the principles of the social world of the Victorian period. He employs various techniques such as sarcasm, jokes, and trickery to illuminate the satirical limelight of the Victorian age principally characterized by stern cultural standards, increased wealth, and improved political permanence. However, the notion of earnestness arguably remains one of the most defining elements for the people living in this time. Through his satirical actions, Wilde seems to raise and calls upon the audience to contemplate whether there exists a linkage between an ordinary name and the actual character of that particular person. Consequently, the Victorian comprehension of sincerity is the major cause of dual morality, hypocrisy, and moral façade. Wilde seeks to arouse the sensations of his audiences by inspiring them to encounter facts and establish the definite character in an individual’s personality rather than name.

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EssaysInCollege. (2023, January 17). The Use of Satire to “Explode” The Social World. Retrieved from


EssaysInCollege. (2023, January 17). The Use of Satire to “Explode” The Social World.

Work Cited

"The Use of Satire to “Explode” The Social World." EssaysInCollege, 17 Jan. 2023,


EssaysInCollege. (2023) 'The Use of Satire to “Explode” The Social World'. 17 January.


EssaysInCollege. 2023. "The Use of Satire to “Explode” The Social World." January 17, 2023.

1. EssaysInCollege. "The Use of Satire to “Explode” The Social World." January 17, 2023.


EssaysInCollege. "The Use of Satire to “Explode” The Social World." January 17, 2023.