The author Oscar Wilde, wrote The Importance of Being Earnest in 1894. The story takes place around 1894 about the English upper class. It focuses on Algernon and Jack who lives two separate lives as they go under the name of Earnest to sport the women they are in love with and wish to marry. Marriage in the play is a valuable theme as it focuses on people’s thoughts towards love and marriage and how it is valued in the upper class society.
Love and marriage are two seperate things as they do not go together. Algernon and his servant Lane view marriage as a burden. They believe that it limits a man’s freedom. Lane tells “in married households the champagne is rarely of a first-rate brand” (Wilde I.3). Indicating that married people lose their sense of thrill since champagne is associated with making one drunk and flirt. Algernon has no interest in getting married to anyone at this time as he does not want to become a miserable man who will have no excitement in his life. He is the type of man that wears the fanciest of clothes and attends the upper class parties that brings in beautiful young women. Algernon believes that marriage is a business that can come later in life. For now he believes that him and Jack should enjoy the pleasures of being unmarried. When Jack confesses that he has arrived to ask Gwendolen for marriage, Algernon thought that Jack “had come up for pleasure? . . . I call that business” (I.7). Algernon believes that proposal and marriage are items of “business,” and not pleasure. He does believe that marriage is important to a man because it is societies expectancy and it lets him maintain respect. Algernon thinks Jack should not be serious right now as he is still young. Jack does not view marriage as a business because he is the first to find his true love. Marriage to a young man is viewed as dying in a way as there is no excitement. Algernon believes one cannot love his wife because Jack does not “seem to realise, that in married life three is company and two is none” (I.22). Algernon believes that every husband and wife is unfaithful once married even though it is never spoken about. His evidence of this is going to dinner with his aunt and witnessing wives flirting with other men. In contrast, Jack does not believe this is true for every couple and insists on marriage.