Comic TechniquesWilde was knownthroughout Englandas a wittyconversationalist.But what isWIT, exactly?Comes from use ofparadox, illogic, puns and Wilde’sfamous epigrams
Paradox A paradox is astatement thatseemscontradictory, butactually presents atruth
Paradox in Earnest Act 1: Lady Bracknell says Lady Harbury’shair turned “quite gold from grief” whenher husband dies. You can also find this quote used in ThePicture of Dorian Gray!
IllogicInverted logic turnswords or phrasesupside down.In Act 1, Algernonsays that “Divorcesare made inHeaven”What is the originalphrase Wilde hasinverted here?
PunsPuns are plays onwords, created byusing a word orphrase that has twodifferent meanings.Other puns aremade by using twowords with thesame sound.
More puns How do crazy people gothrough the forest? Theytake the psycho path. Show me a piano fallingdown a mineshaft and Illshow you A-flat minor. Time flies like an arrow. Fruitflies like a banana. The Buddhist refused pain-killers during the root canalbecause he wanted totranscend dentalmedication.
Wilde Epigrams Epigrams are brief, cleverly expressed statements in prose orverse. Famous Wilde epigrams include:“All women become like their mothers.That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.”“I never travel without my diary. One should always havesomething sensational to read in the train.”“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them somuch.”“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”“There is only one thing in the world worse than beingtalked about, and that is not being talked about.”
Difference between Satireand ParodySatire The purpose of satireis not primarilyhumor in itself somuch as an attackon something ofwhich the authorstrongly disapproves,using the weapon ofwit.Parody A work created tomock, commenton, or poke fun at anoriginal work, itssubject, author, style,or some othertarget, by means ofhumorous, satiric orironic imitation
Parody Parody is ahumourous, mockingimitation of anotherliterary work. The Importance ofBeing Earnestparodies popular 19thcentury melodramas,with their crazy plottwists andimprobablecoincidences.
SatireSatire ridicules the faults of individuals orgroups for the purpose of inspiring change.Wilde satirizes the serious literature of his timewhich also relied on improbable plot twists.He also suggested that marriage is not all it’scracked up to be!
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