Journal 12: Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest
The most consistant example of situational irony in "On the Importance of Being Earnest" is the idea of "Bunburying" creating a fictional person or situation that one can use to avoid unsavory social gatherings. Kind of like a wingman. Jack, Algernon and the audience know the sick friend and irresponsible brother are fake, but the rest of London society does not.
What does X do?-
The confusion between Bunburies and their creators is the crux of the conflict, and humor, of the play. If, instead of lying again and again and creating absurd excuse, Jack and Algernon had merely told the truth, much of their conflict could have been avoided. This satirizes english society, the pretense and conduct is merely playacting by the upperclass, not actual(or earnest) good breeding.
What does X mean?-
This irony enforces the ridiculousness of the play. **spoiler** The final blow to English high society comes when we find out that Jack had been telling the truth the entire time. Turns out the lying protagonists have been truthful despite themselves. This ridiculousness follows Wilde's critique of victorian society, despite all their cultivated honesty and good breeding, the upper class is as lost as anyone else.