Journal 12: Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest

Dramatic Irony-
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.


At first I found the idea of "Bunburies" hilarious, but I didn't realize how often we all do it till I read what you said about this being similar to a wingman. Do you think the author was pointing out that we all do it? Or do you think he was saying that we should just be honest and we can avoid all the lying?


Well Abraham, Im not sure. I dont really think that this play is a fable, that there was any lesson Wilde wanted to teach. I do think that it gives plenty of reasons why lying is "bad". But in the end (wherein everything is settled neatly) its hard to say that Wilde was really villifying Jack and Algernon. I do think he was making a general critique of human nature.

Its hilarious though, I didn't even realize that I Bunbury regularly too untill you pointed that out. Hah, dur.


I think that it was maybe a little bit of both. In stories it's always nice to read about something that you can relate to, and "Bunburying" is just one of those things that everyone does. I don't know so much about the second one. I think the author was definitely pointing out that things are a lot less complicated if everyone is straightforward and honest with each other.On the other hand though, he seemed very sympathetic and understanding about the fact that there are some situations that are just easier to avoid with a good excuse.

I really have to say I loved

I really have to say I loved this entry! I loved how it picked fun at upper society in a way, and how their "good breeding" and obligations were the cause of these scapegoats that helped them get out, but over all this entry of yours was comical but so truthful. I had a question though, do you think it was really his name? Or do you think he choose the name to make Gwendolyn happy? The aunt never really agreed that it was his name, merely that it could have been the reason for her not liking the name so much.


Thank you, this was such a fun play to read.
That is a great thought! Maybe Jack just saw the opportunity for cementing Gwendolyn's love and took it. Jack could have lied about being truthful all along. That deception certainly would have been in character, maybe in the play that possibility is made more obvious? I definately prefer that ending. Awesome idea.

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