The supreme in Victorian society. The title of the

The play, The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde is a trivial comedy written in the Victorian era. The storyline is about two men who lead double lives in order to escape their own responsibilities. Throughout the story, Wilde develops characters by using literary devices like irony which intensified the satire of the play, along with the help of puns. Satire is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s behavior or ideas. This literary device is particularly used in context about politics. Among the three acts in The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde satirized the Victorian age. The idea of living in an earnest manner was supreme in Victorian society. The title of the play displays true satire itself. The word “Earnest” means honest and sincere. Ironically, none of these characters fit the definition of  “earnest”. No character in the play seems to be truthful in anything they say, even if it is only about what their name is. Wilde also uses this device through characters. For example, in the scene where Lady Bracknell asks Jack if he smokes and he says yes, readers expect her to criticize him, but shockingly she doesn’t. She actually praises him instead and states “I am glad to hear it. A man should always have an occupation. There are too many idle men in London as it is.”. This mocks the upper class people of London by saying just about anything would be a better job than what they do with their time, even smoking a cigarette. There are two types of irony displayed in The Importance of Being Earnest. Verbal irony is the use of words to mean something different from what a person actually says. For example, when Lady Bracknell disapproves Gwendolen and Jack’s marriage he uses verbal irony in his response to her and says, “Then a passionate celibacy is all that any of us can look forward to.”. Jack is obviously being sarcastic since he is madly in love and the last thing he is thinking of is celibacy. Another verbal irony appears when Cecily says that she hopes that Algernon is good inside, and pretends to be wicked in the normal life. She even calls it hypocrisy, but in fact she wants him to be wicked, and that is exactly the opposite of the normal expectations. Wilde also uses situational irony. Situational irony is when something happens or a series of events occur that turn out the opposite from what was intended. At the beginning of the play, no one knew about the alternate lives of Algernon and Jack. By the end, all of the characters ended up all in the same place and found out the truth. Jack even came to find out who his real parents are and that he was Algernon’s brother. He also his real christian name was Ernest. This is situational irony because he lied saying that his name was “Ernest” and it actually was Ernest all along. In addition to adding even more humor to the play, Wilde uses puns. A pun is a play on words in which a humorous effect is produced by using a word that suggests two or more meanings or by exploiting similar sounding words having different meanings. The last line of the play is  “On the contrary, Aunt Augusta, I’ve now realised for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest.”.  This displays a pun between the adjective “earnest” and the name “Ernest”. To review, The Importance of Being Earnest had multiple literary devices like irony, satire, and puns. Throughout the play, these devices all tied together to develop characters and set an example of a comedy of manners.