Answer the following question in the form of a thesis-based argument: Which union-Jack's with Gwendolen or Algernon's with Cecily-seems more likely to succeed? ( Read Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest).
Your paper must be written in the third person
--It should be 500 or more word
--It should make use of at least 4 quotations from the play
--The quotations must be introduced, integrated, and parenthetically documented (author's last name and Act number)
--You do not need a w-c page
--It must have an intro with an explicit thesis at the end of the intro, as well as a body and a conclusion
As you begin preparing your final exam response, consider the materials on Wilde located at the Victorian Web:http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/wilde/hunt1.html. Also, go to the JSTOR database (AC Library, Find Articles, Literature) and type in the name of the play. You should see the full text of a number of articles dealing with satire, parody, and themes in the play
As for Earnest, the main thing to understand about it is, of course, the pun in the title. What does it mean to be earnest? One who is earnest is serious, solemn, sincere, diligent, committed, focused-in short, everything that is not on display in the play. Indeed, one might ask, "Is there anyone in the play who seems earnest at all?" In reducing all the earnestness to a play on words, a mere matter of names, Wilde is commenting on the core of Victorian society, which fancied itself to be quite earnest.
The reality is that Victorian society, as much as it laid claim to superior moral fiber, was grossly corrupt, decadent, hypocritical, mean to children, etc. (The prevalence of syphilis, and other diseases, was so bad that it led to the Contagious Diseases Act.) Wilde, then, was holding the mirror up to this society and saying, "Look, see that you are what you claim to despise." And he naturally believed he had good reasons for doing so, as his personal story often made him a target.
Beyond that, consider the different themes and motifs in the play: marriage, class, food, music, gender, religion, education. For example, what role does food serve in the play, and how does food reveal character? Or, why does Wilde blur the lines between men and women in this play?