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The Importance Of Being Earnest

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A Tale of Three Classes

A Marxist Criticism on "The Importance of Being Earnest"

"Excuse me Geoffrey, could you get me some more water. I'm terribly thirsty, and the weather out here isn't doing any good for my complexion." declares the man as he sighs in exhaustion.

"Right away sir, anything else?" proclaims the servant.

"No that will be all." says the man as he waves off the servant.

So is this the scene of yesteryear's society or one of today's, well in actuality it can be either. In today's world the rich still rely on butlers and maids. It seems to be a practice that will always exist in this world, but the question largely is not on their jobs, but if they are deemed of a different class, and sadly to say yes. In today's world it seems that class is still a huge part of the world order, and moreover it seems that there will always be the rich and poor, the owner and the worker. This is even demonstrated by the literature of our time and that of other era's, such as the play "The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde. In this play Wilde display's the class structure with a different and interesting twist. He makes a reflection on the society with his own sense of humor, but however it still leaves a very good opportunity to make a Marxist critique about the way the class structure influences the play. He leaves room for these critiques when he writes about the servants, the nobles, and the middle class. His view on society and class is very evident on the way the servants are portrayed.

"Ð''I don't know that I am much interested in your family life, Lane'"

"Ð''No sir; it's not a very interesting subject. I never think of it myself.'"

In this passage from the play it is very clear that Wilde likes to give his characters some life, but however it seemed that he was giving the servants a bit too much, but nevertheless it does establish very well the position of those servants. In the society Wilde is presenting it seems that the place of the servant was not only for manual labor, but also to provide conversation, and to compliment the employer's personalities. In the story the idea of class was demonstrated by the interaction between Lane and Algernon even though Lane was witty he did know his place as a servant and throughout the play the servants were an excellent reminder that class structure did exist. Wilde's idea of a witty servant has even spawned off into today's society with television sitcoms such as "The Fresh Prince of Bel- Air" and "The Nanny". In these shows the class structure is inherent, but the gap between master and servant is smaller. That is one of the things that Wilde seemed to make apparent, one can have servants, but the gap between doesn't have to be that large. There can be class structure in the world, but the need for class discrimination doesn't need to be there, and another interesting critique can be made of the nobles of that time.

In the Victorian period, and today's nobles exist. These are people who are of noble birth right and is only passed on from generation to generation. It is a well respected position, but the difference between the nobles of today's day and the older ones is the power that they have. In today's time the nobles have little power only respect, but in the Victorian period the power was starting to diminish but it still existed. The characters in the play who were of noble birth did indeed know how to use that power.

Well when one makes a Marxist criticism it can't be solely based on the story's view of the servants, but however one needs to also look at the way the nobility are viewed. In Oscar Wilde's play he seems to make almost a mockery of the nobility. When one sees the way the nobles are portrayed one will think this is a sarcasm on the nobles, but however if one examines it closer he/she may realize this is closer to the truth than previous accounts of the nobles. In the play Oscar Wilde does not hold back in fears he would offend anyone he wrote a play to entertain, but he also did an excellent job on reflecting how the nobles are. Firstly he displays the character of Algernon, who is, quite frankly, a languid in debt young man, but nevertheless he is still a noble. With this character Wilde show's the reader that all nobles aren't perfect and can be more flawed than the average person, and portrayed



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