Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ as a caricature of Victorian England

  • Junaid Shah Shabir


This paper attempts to present Wilde’s enchanting play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ as a ridicule on the Victorian society of England which remains a quintessence of the so-called gentlemanliness and mannerisms even today. The play has succeeded in displaying how triviality was valued in the then-England and basic human values and morals were given least importance.  The paper extrapolates the Victorian society for its derogatory human values and principles through the text. It highlights the trivialities in the lives of the Victorian people and exposes their showy attitudes. The inferences and findings are supported by using extracts from the text which enlighten the readers about the people of the then-England and their social codes and conducts. The paper illustrates how the writer has used the play to hold a mirror to the Victorian people so that they see their own virtual selves and get to know how shallow and materialistic their ways of life are. Wilde has put the characters in the best possible situations so that they reveal their real nature and demonstrate their true selves. These characters inadvertently exemplify the Victorianism while they are busy making their best out a situation and trying their best to win a person.

Keywords: Victorian, Class, Materialism, Elitism, Mannerism, Earnest.


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Author Biography

Junaid Shah Shabir

Junaid Shah Shabir has an MA English from University of Kashmir and is currently working on his research. He is also a short story writer and his major areas of research include Presentism; that is analysis of the literary texts in the current scenario and contemporary political and demographic contexts. Besides creating his own art, he has also done some translations of Urdu short stories too.


1. Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. New Delhi: Fingerprint Classics, 2017.
2. Daiches, David. A Critical History of English Literature. New Delhi: Supernova Publishers, 2017.
3. Hudson W.H. An Outline History of English Literature. New Delhi: Rama Brothers, 2015.
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