Irony in the "Importance Of Being Earnest"
By maxtanner, Updated
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In act 1, Algernon tells Lady Braknell that there is "No cucumbers!" (page 18) even though we, the audience, know that he ate all of the cucumber sandwiches earlier. It shows that Algernon is a lier. This is dramatically ironic
In act 1, Algernon talks about his friend "Bunbury" and how he has to go visit him because he is sick. Lady Bracknell replies, "It is very strange. This Mr. Bunbury seems to suffer from curiously bad health." (page 20) we know that "Bunbury" is actually a fake made up friend. It shows that Algernon has been lying for a long time.This is Dramatic Irony.
In Act 1, Jack (pretenting to be Ernest) is talking to Gwendolen and is talking about his name. "Well, really, Gwendolen, I must say that I think that there are lots of other much nicer names. I think Jack, for instance, A charming name." (Page 23) We know that his name really is Jack but Gwendolen likes him because of his name. It is Ironic because he is lying about his name just so that Gwendolen will like him. This is Dramatic Irony.
When Algernon (pretending to be Ernest) is talking to Cecily, he asks her about other names. "Oh, any name you like--Algernon--for instance..."(Page 66) Cecily replies, "But I don't like the name of Algernon."(page 66) We know that he really is Algernon and the only reason Cecily likes him is because his name is "Ernest". This is dramatic Irony.
In act II, Gwendolen comes to the country house and meets Cecily. They are talking and they discover that they are both engaged to "Ernest". Cecily says "Mr Ernest and I are engaged to be married."(page 71). Then Gwndolen replies, "My darling Cecily, I think there must be some slight error. Mr. Ernest Worthing is engaged to me."(page 71-72). This is dramatically ironic because we, the audience, know that they are talking about two different people, but Cecily and Gwendolen think they are talking about the same person, "Ernest".
At the end of the play, Jack finds out who his real parents are, and it turns out he is Algernon's brother. He also finds out what his real, Christian name is. "General 1869, Christian names, Ernest John. I always told you, Gwendolen, my name was Ernest, Didn't I? Well it is Ernst after all. I mean it naturally is Ernest."(page 105) This is situational irony because he lied saying that his name was "Ernest" and it actually was Ernest all along.
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