Satire in The Importance of Being Earnest

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Satire in The Importance of Being Earnest: Oscar Wilde is known for his satire, and The Importance of Being Earnest is no exception to Wilde’s usual mode of satirical writing. The effect of satire will change, however, depending upon the audience, and one of the fascinating things about this play is that the people Wilde satirizes are also the people he expects to be watching the play. Why does Wilde satirize the viewers who will be buying the tickets? What kind of reaction might he be aiming to evoke in his audience? This final project will require you to gather research material, analyze it, evaluate it, and bring it together to act as support for your writing. All options require strong critical engagement with both the focal primary text(s) and with the required peer reviewed sources. General Requirements for the Project: All submissions must: • use 3 peer reviewed sources in addition to whatever primary texts they discuss (and these sources must be used, actually cited, in the essay, not just listed in the works cited at the end) • be 1000-1500 words long • must be original to this class (no resubmissions from other courses are allowed) • be in MLA format and use MLA style citations (see Research and Documentation Online for MLA formatting models; most of you sources will probably need to use the “work from a database” model) BE CAREFUL that you do not create a cut and paste essay of information from your various sources; your ideas are to be the focus of the essay, and the research should only supplement and support your ideas. Also, take great care not to plagiarize; if in doubt, cite the source.

Primary sources are, in literature, the creative works themselves. In the case of this essay, the primary source will be the play about which you are writing. Secondary or critical sources, by contrast, are works that write about primary sources. Secondary sources exist in direct relation to primary sources; without the primary sources, the secondary sources would not be written. Literary secondary sources discuss, argue about, comment on, and so forth one or more primary sources.

The upshot of this is that, for the purposes of this essay, you may not use the primary source (The Importance of Being Earnest) as a secondary source. The three required sources must consist of works that comment on, discuss, argue about, etc. primary sources in some way. Other works of literature will not count toward the three-source requirement.