Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest’, while mocking deeply at the tribal customs of the late Victorians, has, at its heart, a wish to point the human race in the right direction: away from fraud, hypocrisy and such indecent preoccupation with material realities. Most of the characters in the play share these characteristics. Bracknell, in particular, is preoccupied with materialism and social status. Later in the play, she states “I regret to say that we live in an age of surfaces”. Bracknell does not see the irony in her words as she too is living a facade. This is highlighted when she accidentally reveals her lack of funds. She is merely living a lie to maintain her place in society and living off her reputation. Bracknell and company are also fixated with names and position. This is so relevant to society today. The purchase of designer goods and the wearing labels validate people’s existence. It makes them feel special and gives them a sense of being superior to others. Many people update their social media with `alternative facts’ (I can’t believe I just used that term!) to make others think they are living a better life than others. A recent study found that heavy Facebook users can experience envy — which can ultimately lead to extreme sadness. This is a modern day variation of the Bracknell and Co were doing. It’s living a false life.
A few months ago I deleted my Facebook account. I wanted to return to the`real world’ and not be distracted by what others were up to. I wanted to reconnect with the world in the true sense and live without digital distraction. I am very much aware that a lot of people are not present or aware of their surroundings and are caught up in what other people are doing. Commenting on status updates etc. Like Bracknell and Co, they are missing out on what really matters.
Oscar Wilde, of course, was a very smart and witty man. Here are some of my favourite quotes.