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ENGL 1410 (11)

Intro to Oscar Wilde "the importance of being earnest".doc

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ENGL 1410
Anneke Olthof

The aesthetic movement (1860-1900) - importance in representation - importance in beauty - one lives because of beauty aestheticism was a cult - motto: art for arts sake - movement believed that art shouldn’t just seek to have an education message, it was to give sensual pleasure - influenced heavily by oriental design Oscar Wilde - part of the movement - had the facade as a father and husband, and a private life (put on trial for homosexuality) - died of poverty, trial ruined the rest of his life The importance of being earnest - a social commentary - a lot of double entendres - aiming critique at the upper classes and the victorian social ideology - e.g. a woman is only worth something if she’s married - title conveys that its important to be truthful and upfront - culturally in this time period things were taking place - women are now going out to work - end of the 1800s because of the war, women outnumbered men in england - a lot of spinsters - scientific knowledge - trying to break down our understanding of how things are categorized in boxes March 27 - class discussions - Lady Bracknall is a satirical character - food sex metaphor - marriages are made in hell - cliches - irony, nothing earnest about the characters or the play - whole understanding of earnest, nothing earnest in the play - no one is who they appear - excess, Gwendolyn, earnest beyond belief - idea of fiction and writing - discussion around education taking place - making a vast social commentary on the hypocrisy of keeping up appearances - if the upper classes are supposed to set the example for the lower classes - algae is setting an immoral example for his staff - lies continuously - age of Freud (discussions of repression, everyone is sexually repressed) - get through sexual repression through eating in excess - sexual tension with Jack and Gwendolyn - constant referral to sex - Lane covers for Algae - servants are as deviant asAlgae - marriage is being equated with hell - discussion about married life - no sense of moral responsibilities - Algae is turning the tables - saying he should be learning from lower classes - supposed to be upper classes setting the example Jack Worthing - represents upper classes - attitudes of victorian rituals - wants to get married, unlikeAlgae - wants to be responsible - Is he worth his name in gold? is he worth the name earnest? - Algae represents scum - something which is stagnant - stagnantation taking place in the upper classes - holding on too tight to the class system - near the end of the act there is a discussion on fools (p. 1034) - are they talking about anything or reduced to nonsense themselves - highlighting that both of these two men are fools - perceive themselves to be clever - cigarette case: introduces Cecily - fictional representation going on - the opening of a book - first introducing us to earnest who is now jack, has to tellAlgae a story to fictionalize his life - Cecily important because Is jack as earnest as he wants to pretend he is? - conforms to social ideology - feels as though he can conform, has morals, not as bad as Algae 1026-1027 - jacks not good at lying and making up stories - drawing our attention by mocking himself and others, literary critics - mocking his own profession - moved into the age of education - newspapers are rampant - now have more people reading the daily news - age of popular culture - women and men at this time have a culture around self-help guides - people are turning to these magazines to learn how to present themselves - people are learning from culture magazines - Gwendolyn is now engaged to Jack - Gwendolyn asks Jack, but for appearances Jack asks - foolishness, class structure, appearances, doubling, food is going to be a big role throughout - the heart of the text is education April 1 - importance of appearance Act 2 - Fiction - appearance of fiction in act
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