The Importance of Being Earnest: Contrasts Between Book and Film

The play The Importance of Being Earnest is the main topic for this essay. Now I am going to give a reflection on the play that is written by Oscar Wilde, and the 2002 film by Oliver Parker, of the same name. Oscar Wilde has created an entertaining comedy using satirical condemnation, which focuses on marriage, social behaviour and class in Victorian Society and the hypocritical perspectives surrounding them. My past experiences and beliefs lead to my equivocal response of both texts. While I liked Jack and Algernon’s comedic pairing and friendship in the play, I enjoyed Cecily’s character in the film even more.

I was entertained by Jack and Algernon’s childish quarrels because their arguments are the same, and I relate to this because I often have the same problem when arguing with friends. Jack’s statement, “As for your conduct towards Miss Cardew, I must say that your taking in a sweet, simple innocent girl like that is quite inexcusable. To say nothing of the fact that she is my ward.” After saying this, Algernon then replies with, “I can see no possible defence at all for your deceiving a brilliant, clever thoroughly experienced young lady like Miss Fairfax. To say nothing of the fact that she is my cousin’. Not only is this comedic pairing it is also an example of hypocrisy. While this is not obvious to Algernon and Jack in the play, Wilde’s use of satire is quite obvious to the viewers. My experience when arguing with friends very much so aligns with Algernon and Jack’s hypocritical situation. My friends and I are all very competitive and stubborn, similar to Algernon and Jack. When having the most ludicrous of arguments, we often do not realize we are saying the same thing until another friend points it out. But then again, my friends and I always make up after arguing, just like Jack and Algernon, because even though at times they resent each other, in the end, they are like brothers to another like I am sisters to my grammar friends. 

After seeing the film, I would like to further reflect on it. My past experiences of being a teenage girl lead me to like one character in, particular, Cecily Cardew. She is stubborn and obscure from the other women featured in the play, such as Gwendolen, Miss Prism and Lady Bracknell. When Cecily as a character is introduced, she can’t be forgotten, with her extravagant glasses, tattoo and nature. Her fashion choice contrasts from the other women also, wearing just a simple white dress in comparison to Gwendolen’s dress, for example.  I also relate to her constant daydreams, which I seem to experience more often than not. As I am an adolescent girl, some of Cecily’s defiant acts are easily reflected in my life in the 21st Century. I always enjoy completely an outfit with an accessory, similar to Cecily, and don’t always like to wear bold items of clothing. I also tend to daydream quite often, as I have trouble staying focused at times, slipping in and out of daydreams. So in the film when Cecily is pictured having yet another daydream, I relate to her immensely and am glad to know I’m not the only person.

Jack and Algernon’s strange friendship and the boldness of Cecily lead me to find the character’s behaviour relatable and humorous. While Cecily’s confidence and Jack and Algernon’s friendship is from the Victorian Era, there are some instances of these in today’s world. For example, Cecily’s bold and confident nature can be seen in the eyes of the FIFA Women’s World Cup players, athletes defying social norms and having tight bonds with one another. If everyone in the world took a chance and stepped outside of popular beliefs, the world would be a better place.  

11 February 2023
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