Absurdity in 'The importance of Being Earnest' Essay

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There is no one kind of humor: Numerous types of humor surface in The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde and The Monty Python and the Holy Grail by Graham Chapman.

Looking at the texts The Importance of Being Earnest and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it is evident that humor is demonstrated differently between both plays. Both texts significantly possess many humor types, indicating that there is no one kind of humor. Monty Python and the Holy Grail uses satire, heteroglossia, trickster figures, and benign violation to attack the knight's code of chivalry. While The Importance of Being Earnest displays farce, Slapstick, irony, and wit to engage with the play's themes. Both plays use different humor because they each have their intended agenda.

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Satire was one of the prominent types of humor used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with the film being categorized as the satire genre. Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones implemented satire to demolish an opposing viewpoint. The viewpoint being destroyed in Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the monarch system of government and the knight's code of chivalry. Monty Python and the Holy Grail perfectly meets satire's definition: it uses absurdity to dramatize a contemporary issue: the monarchy system of government. There was an intended message the authors wanted to pass to the audience. They did not want to attack the issue directly because that would be boring, so they decided to address significant issues ongoing at that time but with a comedic spin. Satire was implemented throughout the movie with the sole purpose of conveying social commentary and criticism, allowing Monty Python and the Holy Grail to spread awareness concerning issues in society. It gives a sense of moral purpose to the humorous film, for the sake of the film not being seen as funny for being funny. Not only does the movie give the audience a good laugh, but it also urges them to ponder about the issues pinpointed in the movie. The element of satire gives Monty Python and the Holy Grail the ability to provide political critique while entertaining the audiences through other types of humor. Satire is a different type of humor because satire is comedy as a weapon. It is so common that it has its name. Which means it is a different type of humor. An example of heteroglossia is the way Arthur, the constitutional peasant, brave Sir Robin, the other knights, and the French herald all differed in how they spoke.

Heteroglossia was implemented to distinguish between different social classes and reveal that borders play a part in the vernacular. It is used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail as a comedic element, allowing parody to work. Heteroglossia was used to help incorporate satire, for example, the discussion of kingship by the 'constitutional peasant. Heteroglossia enacts the mingling of differences, the refusal to accept a single authority, and language. One of the reasons it presents throughout the film is to show that there is no single language, but there are distinct varieties between a single language. King Arthur, his knights, the peasants, and the Frenchmen spoke English but with a different accent. The scene in which Herbert's father instructs the guards to allow the prince to leave the room until he gets back to his son. It takes the guards a while to understand Herbert, even though they are speaking the same language, just like how Abbott and Castello 'who's on first.' Herbert and the guards find it challenging to understand each other, even though speaking the same language creates confusion. In that confusion, the audience perceives it as humor. Which diversifies the film. If heteroglossia were not involved in the movie, all the characters would have been uniform, making the movie less enjoyable. With heteroglossia, meaning comedy is established through multiple languages. This tells us that heteroglossia is one established kind of humor, but it cannot be the only type. For if that was the only type of humor, and it would not have one specified name, we would all know humor to be heteroglossia. There are more types of humor, so there is a need to give heteroglossia its term. It is like a branch of the comedy tree.

Benign violation theory came into play when the French guard insults King Arthur for overusing his power, threatening to take their castle away. This is an excellent example of Benign violation theory because (1) the insults are a violation, (2) the insults are benign (3) the insults are both a violation and benign simultaneously. Benign violation depicts that jokes often fail to be funny if they are too kind or aggressive. Most benign things do not make people laugh, and so do aggressive things in nature. If the French guard's comments were too kind, the audience would regard its compliment. If his comments were aggressive, people would perceive it as rude, and not needed, and would grow a sense of distaste for the scene. The guard called King Arthur and his men 'English pig-dogs! Go and boil your bottom, sons of a silly person. Although the comments made for the guard violated King Arthur and his men, they were made in a warm demeanor. Just like how friends would banter. Upon seeing that scene, the audience would not conclude that remarks from the French guard were too vile or too vile. They would find it funny because a good combination of being kind and violation occurs. Benign violation theory is evident when the French guards make jest of King Arthur and his knights physically. The guard mocks them by placing his thumbs on the side of his head while making sounds. 'The Frenchmen also verbally mock King Arthur with ridiculously offensive words like 'English pigdogs', 'empty-headed animal food trough wiper', and another ridiculously offensive name-calling, including intentionally mispronouncing knights as 'kniggits'.' (Kusnandi et al., 8.). Making fun of people is a violation but putting one's hand on the side of their head and making funny noises and faces is quite childlike, which lessens the violation making it benign.

Almost everyone is a trickster in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The rabbit was included when it appeared to be gentle and harmless. When King Arthur and other knights saw the Rabbit of Caerbannog, one knight tried to warn everyone that the rabbit 'is no ordinary rabbit that's the foulest, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on. '(). At first, the rabbit appeared to be calm and harmless, but then, as one of the knights approached the rabbit, it switched its character to become aggressive and harmful. The Rabbit of Caerbannog highlighted one of the common traits of a trickster character, which emphasizes cleverness and trickery as dominant traits. The rabbit displayed this by trickery and cleverness to deceive the knights. The rabbit is neither wholly good nor wholly bad. It sits on the borderline, and one cannot deem the rabbit evil because of the vicious act committed. One can see the rabbit's actions as self-defense. Throughout Monty Python and the Holy Grail, only the rabbit has been able to fight King Arthur and his men successfully this gives the impression that the rabbit is an agent of change. It used its trickery to mess up pre-established systems and power structures. What makes the Rabbit of Caerbannog scene funny is that it is not every day. You can a rabbit trick a group of men. This proves that there is no one kind of humor. We can all agree that not every character we find funny is a trickster figure. There is another excellent example of a trickster figure in The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.

Jack appearing to play a reckless black sheep brother named Earnest is an example of a trickster figure. Jack Worthing uses his fictitious brother to travel from the city to the countryside and back (Snider, 59). Jack uses deception to change his identity to fit in socially. Jack Worthing is an example of a trickster figure because he uses cleverness to manipulate others to lead a double life. Jack refuses the social norm by crossing boundaries by playing different roles with people in the countryside and the city. Algernon is another example of a trickster figure. he uses his made-up friend Bunbury to get away from reality. (Snider, 59). he uses Bunbury to avoid confrontation and activities. Algernon employs cunning ways to resist social and natural order to get away from his reality. he also displays a trickster figure by lying to Cecily that his name is Ernest. which is also evidence of a sunshine world where everything is perfect. Algernon also gets engaged to Cecily. (Wilde, 1:15:04). These are the many ways that trickster figures were employed in The importance of being earnest.

Lady Bracknell choosing a husband for her daughter, Gwendolen, based on his status, character, and class demonstrates a farce in The importance of being earnest. lady Bracknell asks Jack, such as 'What is your incoming,' 'in land or investments?' and 'You have a townhouse, I hope?' to measure if he is capable of marrying Cecily. (Wilde, 22:55). Her questions are an example of a farce because they are far from reality. It is improbable for Jack to meet up with Lady Bracknell's expectations. She presented rude and explicit behavior wanting to know how wealthy Jack is to gauge if he has enough to be Gwendolen's husband. Cecily's dream of marrying a man named Earnest is another example of a farce. Her goal to marry a man named Earnest is extravagant, thus making it a farce. she plans to marry earnestly, even though she has never met him. (Wilde, 54:00). Her dreams and hopes are absurd and highly exaggerated. Also, Jack's grieving scene at the end for mistaking Prism as his mother is an example of a farce (Foster, 19). he was being overdramatic, assuming that Prism is his mother.

Slapstick humor is plastered everywhere in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest. Slapstick is a style of humor that involves exaggerated physical activities that exceed the boundaries of average physical comedy. An example of Slapstick was displayed when Ernest got down on his knees on the sofa and circled the room with Algernon. When Algernon tries to read the words written on the cigarette box, Earnest becomes tense and begins to run around the sofa chasing. Slapstick humor is evident through Earnest's reaction. Oscar Wilde did not use verbal communication to show Earnest's reaction. He used his body language to communicate that.

A wit is a form of intelligent humor, the ability to say or write clever and usually funny things. There is almost no action in The Importance of Being Earnest. Everything happens through dialogue which calls the author to use wit to make the audience laugh. The pun in the title is also a wit. The earnestErnest joke is at the center of the play. Gwendolen wants to marry a man called Ernest, regardless of whether the man is wealthy. However, Lady Bracknell wants her daughter to marry someone earnest. Jack is neither 'earnest' nor 'Ernest.' He is nothing but a paradox and a hypocrite.

Outrageous truths are everywhere in the play. They are absurd, impossible, laughable statements, yet when we consider them further, we realize they are accurate and true not just in the world of the play but also in our world. They are also wits but with elegant phrasing. 'I am sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays.' It is an example of an outrageous truth. Everyone wants to sound clever and 'woke,' it gets annoying. Another example of 'outrageous truth' is this quote 'To be natural is such a challenging pose to keep up.'. As humans, we try to fit in, so sometimes it is hard to be our natural selves because we might get accepted. The idea of 'outrageous truth untruth' is also a central theme in other comedies. Comedians are just like us, so they write jokes based on reality and truths. Wit is different from all types of humor; it is when something clever is said with some intelligence and some funny elements.

The plays The Importance of Being Earnest and Monty Python and the Holy Grail are humorous. From examining both, one can see that they employ different types of humor to amuse the audience. Monty Python and the Holy Grail's purpose was to attack the knight's code of chivalry. Its purpose was a success due to satire, heteroglossia, trickster figures, and benign violation. The Importance of Being Earnest, a play with more dialogue than action, adopted farce, slapstick, irony, and wit to capture the play's themes. They are not just one type of humor that is constant in both plays. The Importance of Being Earnest and Monty Python and the Holy Grail utilized different types of humor to captivate the audience.

Works Cited

    1. “Benign Violation Theory.” Humor Research Lab (HuRL), 25 Aug. 2021, https: humor research lab. combining-violation-theory. Accessed 24 November. 2021
    2. Fauzan Romdhoni Kusnandi, Isti Siti Saleha Gandana, Nia Nafisah. “Humor analysis of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).” Passage, vol. 8, no. 3, 2020, pp. 73-88, file:UserscorneliusoluwasikunDownloads29867-65342-1-PB.pdf. Accessed 24 November. 2021
    3. Jones, Terry, and Terry Gilliam. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Cinema 5 Distributing, 1975.
    4. Snider, Clifton. “Synchronicity and the Trickster in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest.’” The Wildean, no. 27, 2005. https:home.csulb.edu~csniderwilde.earnest.article 45270141. Accessed 24 Nov. 2021.
    5. Stefanovska, Maja. “The Importance of Being Earnest: The Audience Is Repeatedly Beaten with Slapstick Humour.” Capital Critics' Circle Le Cercle Des Critiques De La Capitale, 27 Oct. 2014, http:capitalcriticscircle. comimportance-earnest-much-emphasis-physicality. Accessed 29 Nov. 2021.
    6. Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. New York: Samuel French, 1980. Print.
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