Oscar Wilde Constanly Mocks Victorian Society in the Importance of Being Earnest but Is Ultimately Approved

1563 words 7 pages
Act III offers happy resolution to the problems of identity and marriage that drive much of the humor in the previous acts. Wilde continues to mock the social customs and attitudes of the aristocratic class. He relentlessly attacks their values, views on marriage and respectability, sexual attitudes, and concern for stability in the social structure.
Wilde attacks social behavior with the continuation of speeches by his characters that are the opposite of their actions. While Cecily and Gwendolen agree to keep a dignified silence, Gwendolen actually states that they will not be the first ones to speak to the men. In the very next line she says, "Mr. Worthing, I have something very particular to ask you." Wilde seems to be saying that
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The death of Bunbury gives Wilde the opportunity to speak of aristocratic fears and have some continued fun with the upper class's lack of compassion about death. The 1885 Trafalgar Square riots brought on ruling-class fears of insurrection, anarchism and socialism. Wilde humorously touches on these fears when he allows Algernon to explain the explosion of Bunbury. Lady Bracknell, fearing the worst, exclaims, "Was he the victim of a revolutionary outrage? I was not aware that Mr. Bunbury was interested in social legislation. If so, he is well punished for his morbidity." Evidently, to Lady Bracknell's acquaintances, laws that protect the welfare of those less fortunate are strictly morbid subjects. In fact, this attitude seems to contradict the upper-class concern for reform. However, in reality, Wilde is confirming the upper-class definition of social reform: conforming to the status quo.
In Act III Wilde makes a comment on the value of being homosexual with a veiled reference to Lady Lancing. When Lady Bracknell asserts that Cecily needs to have a more sophisticated hairstyle, she recommends "a thoroughly experienced French maid" who can make a great deal of change in a very short time. She explains that such a change happened to an acquaintance of hers, Lady Lancing, and that after three months "her own husband did not know her." Jack uses the opportunity to make a pun on the word