LOVE IN THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING
by OSCAR WILDE
By: Windah Pasaribu
In this paper, the writer would like to analyze a drama,
entitled The Importance of Being Earnest written by Oscar
Wilde. The purpose of this writing is to analyze love in the
drama. The writer uses the theory of love based on The Art of
Loving by Erich Fromm. The writer uses textual, contextual,
and hyper textual methods. By analyzing the poem, the
writer finds that love is determined by social class. Parents
also take place in choosing a lover for their daughter.
Keywords: Oscar Wilde, love, victorian drama, theme
The play is about two men who created fantasy figures to make the girls
loved them. in this play drama we can see clearly how the social class influenced
2. Theory and Methodology
Theme is defined as a main idea or an underlying meaning of a literary work
that may be stated directly or indirectly.
According to Eric Fromm in The Art of Love (1956:25) “love is an activity ,
not a passive affect; it is standing in, not a ‘falling for’. In the most general way, the
active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving,
The writer uses close reading method in analyzing this drama.
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born on October
16, 1854 in Dublin, Ireland. Upon graduating from Oxford,
Wilde moved to London. In the university, Wilde developed his
love in literature. He also more conscious of his bisexual
nature. He entered the London's high society easyly. He
became famous in London as a well-know playwrite. In his
play, he did not talk about politic but he talked about critique
of social norms. The writing was influenced by his
experiences. At the height of his fame and success, while his
masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). He
died on November 30, 1900 in Paris, France.
4. The Summary
Jack reveals he has come to London to propose to Gwendolen.
Algernon ridicules the notion of marriage, and says that before Jack can
marry Gwendolen, he has to clear up the issue of Cecily., Jack confesses his
feelings to Gwendolen, and she admits that she likes him, too, especially
since she has always wanted to love someone named Ernest. Alfernon flirts
with Cecily as Earnest. He asks Cecily to marry him, and she points out that
they have been engaged for three months. Jack introduces Cecily to Lady
Bracknell, and Algernon says that he is engaged to her. Lady Bracknell
informs Jack that he is the son of her sister, making him Algernon's older
brother after seeing Miss Prism. Jack asks Lady Bracknell what his original
name was. She says his full name is Ernest John Moncrieff. The two
couples, Algernon and Cecily, Jack and Gwendolen are happy because
there is no obstacle between them now.
5.1 Textual Discussion : Theme
There are several themes in this drama. They are:
Lies and Deceit
In this drama, we found that Algernon and Jack lied. They made their
fantasy figure. Jack created Ernest and Alge created Burnbury. From the
beginning of the play, we knew that Jack lied about Cecily. The worst part is when
Jack and Alge made lies about how Jack’s fantasy figure, Ernest, died. It is really
strange when someone made a plan about how someone died. And because they
have lied since the first time they had to make more complex lies to get out of the
tangles of their previous lies. Eventually, at the end of the story they did not lie
longer. They told the truth finally because they know that telling the truth is the
In this drama, the figures often talked about marriage.
We found that Jack wanted to marry Gwendolen and
Algernon wanted to marry Cecily. In choosing the best
man for their daughter, parents take role here. Lady
Bracknell took role in choosing Gwendolen’s mate. We
found that Lady Bracknell interviewed Jack because she
knew Jack was an orphan. The marriage here influenced
by the social class. Gwendolen and Jack were in love but
Gwendolen’s mother did not agree because Jack was
from lower class.
Love in this play really describes the Victorian era. In that era, parents
approval is really needed. It is shown by Lady Bracknell in this play. She
directly interviewed Jack, when she knew Jack proposed Gwendolen. Women
in Victorian era would normally marry someone who in the same class or
higher class, never below their class.
The unique thing which makes this play different with the other romance
fiction is the definition of love by the figures. It seems that the definition of
love in this play is not so much an unconditional and self-sacrificing love, but
a general attitude of good intentions, admiration, and honest affection. “My
ideal has always been to love someone of the name of Earnest” this phrase
stated by Gwendolen. It shown that her love is conditional.
5.1 Textual Discussion : Love
Usually a woman loves a man because he she really loves the man poorly
without any requirement. We called it unconditional love. But we can not find
it in The Importance of Being Earnest drama. On one side, if we analyze the
reason of Algernon married Cecily, we would find that Alge married Cecily
for business. We know Algernon was from high class but he had no money
and he had so many bills to pay. Cecily who stayed in country house looked
like middle class girl, but she was rich. So we can conclude that Algernon
married Cecily for raising his status and enjoying Cecily’s wealth. It is only
writer’s interpretation. But it emphasizes the goal of marriage in Victorian era.
In Victorian era many marriages continued being a business. That’s why
before a couple gets engaged they were investigated by the other party. Only
few marriages started with love, although many of them as the time passed
they get fond of each other.
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde tells about two men who
create fantasy figures named Earnest and Bunbury. Two girls were in love
with them because these two girls knew their name was Earnest. In fact, these
two men lied about their real name. It made the girls angry but finally forgave
them. Love in this play is not an unconditional love. It describes how love is in
Victorian era. In Victorian era many marriages continued being a business.
But at the end of the story, all the figures had happy ending. We covered that
Jack was Algernon’s brother. Lady Bracknell finally approved Jack as
Gwendolen’s husband. Cecily and Algernon would marry soon too. This play
is like common romance fiction at the end with the happy ending. The
difference between this play and the other romance fiction is how the figures
define love in this play.
Fromm, Erich. 1956. The Art of Loving. New York: Harper & Row.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Wilde (accessed on June 13, 2016)
d275/Importance%20of%20Being%20Earnest%20Text.pdf (accessed on
June 13, 2016)
http://literarydevices.net/theme/ (accessed on June 13, 2016)
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love (accessed on June 13, 2016)
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