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The Importance of Being Earnest: Act 2

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The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 2
In The Importance of Being Earnest, almost every character is in pursuit of another; Jack is in pursuit of Gwendolen’s love, whom is in pursuit of Jack, who she believes is Ernest. Meanwhile in the country, Dr Chausible is in pursuit of Miss Prism’s love, and Cecily of Algernon’s love; similarly to Gwendolen’s situation, Cecily is fooled into believing Algernon is called Ernest. Wilde has created this situation to mock the upper class of the time and also uses it in various ways to build comedy throughout act 2.
Within act 2, the audience witness many entrances and exits, one of the most significant from the Merriman during the dispute between Gwendolen and Cecily. During the dispute, Gwendolen and Cecily are disrupted by the Merriman, ‘followed by the footman’, with ‘the presence of the servants [exercising] a restraining influence, under which both girls chafe’. This builds the comedy within this scene as the Merriman sets the table slowly, with ‘a long pause’, further infuriating Cecily and Gwendolen; this creates anticipation within the audience, as they would be anxiously wait for the dispute to continue. One could interpret the entrance and exit of the Merriman as Wilde placing more importance in the servants than the people they are serving, another way to mock the upper class of the time. Another important exit in the act is when Cecily and Gwendolen ‘retire into the house with scornful looks’, expecting the men to chase after them. However, in the true style of the book, this doesn’t happen. This builds comedy in act 2 as Jack and Algernon are so busy bickering about their own problems revolving around Cecily and Gwendolen, yet they don’t seem to care that they have retired to the house.
Act 2 is also where we are introduced to the possibility of the ‘New Woman’. At the beginning of act 2, we discover that Cecily

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