Which Literary Device is Used in the Title of Oscar wild’s Play The Importance of Being Earnest? This question may come up to your mind when you choose this play as your next read. Oscar Wilde’s witty comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, which premiered on February 14, 1895, was an instant hit with critics and the public alike. Its charming dialogue and insightful use of literary devices made it one of the most enduring comedies in English literature.
The Importance of Being Earnest satirizes Victorian society and the upper class in an absurd manner that captures the reader’s attention right from the start. In this article, we will examine the literary devices used throughout the play, which serve to reinforce its humorous tone and nonsensical plot twists and themes. Moreover, his use of humor and satire to comment on social conventions in Victorian England.
Interpretations of the Play
When we read a title like The Importance of Being Earnest, it gets hard to decide whether we should take it literally or figuratively. It has an air of familiarity about it; is there some old phrase we don’t remember that says, the importance of being earnest? No, but that is indeed one meaning behind Wilde’s title: that being earnest—acting responsibly and dutifully—is important. But there are other implications here as well.
In English, earnest also means serious, and Wilde uses both meanings for his title. In fact, he does more than use them. He plays with them. The title of the play emphasizes something different. It hints about how serious or unserious life is. It also suggests how seriously one should treat life.
Which literary device is used in the title?
The direct answer to this question is hyperbole. Hyperbole is an exaggeration, which means that hyperbole is “language that describes something as better as or worse than it is.” For example, in The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde uses measures to poke fun at Victorian England. He satirizes its moralistic rigidity by exaggerating ridiculous stereotypes—especially those associated with class status.
Effective Usage of Hyperbole
Wild has brilliantly highlighted his characters’ eccentricities without getting himself into trouble. For instance, Lady Bracknell demands her daughter Gwendolen’s suitor Jack Worthing explain why he has no family history and no last name. He makes up an absurd tale of his disturbed childhood. He creates imaginative story to avoid telling her his real name (Ernest after Lord Ernest Belville).
However, only after lying about being named Ernest to that way, Jack simultaneously answers Lady Bracknell’s question. He does so through hyperbole and paradox: claiming to have been born at sea is figuratively impossible and completely accurate; likewise, saying his parents died in a shipwreck implies they died before he was born. It’s not just clever wordplay; it also says something important about social expectations.
By pretending to have come from nothing, Jack highlights how illogical upper-class conventions are by turning them upside down. He also emphasizes how ridiculous they are by implying that they’re so strict they’d force him to change his identity so that he could marry into wealth and status.
Let’s Sum Up
I hope this article provided a satisfactory answer to the question, Which Literary Device is Used in the Title of Oscar wild’s Play The Importance of Being Earnest? As always, if you have any question or suggestion, give your feedback in the comment section.