While reading the play The Importance of Being Earnest, one serious theme that I noticed was the consistent act of deception throughout the entire play. However this lack of honesty was not lonesome for insightful comedy and a visible foreshadowing of upcoming events accompanied it. Meaning that the play was cleverly written with humor and provided us with an obvious chain of facts that would lead up to us unraveling the end of the play. This play critiques the need to lie or exaggerate the truth, in order to fit in the norm of English society during the 1890s.
The unique characters in this play portray a nonchalant attitude along with subtle gestures in a tribute to not being (earnest); they were not being honest. Specifically, they all had unique characteristics that made it easier for them to not being honest. They also did little things that supported their insincere personalities. This obvious hypocrisy can be noted as early as the first act of the play. Such a case as when Algernons servant, Lane, openly lies and says(Gravely.) There were no cucumbers in the market this morning, sir. I went down twice. (p.38) This is where the first of many lies throughout the play originates. Even though one could consider this lie an unselfish lie, since Lane lied for his master and not himself, it is still lie, whether it is a white lie or more. The exposure of this lie sets the mood of the play, a mood of deception.
Carrying out the chain, Jack lies about his name being Ernest, a name that impresses Gwendolen. If only he originally knew the irony within the truth, he really is Ernest. He evades his association with Cecily Well if you have to know, Cecily happens to be my aunt. (p.32) Why does the playwright, Wilde, choose to have Jack dispense such a composite scripture of deception? Meaning that Wilde depicted Jacks character as a person who from the beginning of the play, was lying. Furthermore, these lies did not cease for they just evolved into more and more, thus creating composite lies that go hand in hand with one another. My guess for this attribute would be to show the ridiculousness of the need to have a prestigious family, unnecessary attributes to show for one-self and a name that show everything that you are not.
Algernons character proves to be as tricky as Jack, In fact, now that you mention the subject, I have been very bad in my own small way. (p.61) Both seem to have a fixed fascination in depicting themselves as someone that they are not. This point is emphasized by the way Jack and Algernon jumped at the idea to be christened under the name of Ernest, which shows how their lack of moral values is further revealed.
Furthermore, the variation on ones personality seems to be beneficial not only to the male characters, but also to the female characters such as Gwendolen and Cecily. These two particular characters find comfort and trivial value in the name Ernest since all they wanted to do was marry a man who holds that name.
Sometimes there is just a natural progression of lies. Once it starts, it continues and that is evident within the characters of this play. That is why there is always an Importance of Being Earnest.