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Some may say that comedy is a philosophy of life, and that it is an always changing art form. People also say comedy can sometimes even be considered to be a personal expression of a persons world around them, a way to communicate thoughts and feelings in a very non-serious way. Leaving almost an infinite amount of room for interpretation as to what should be considered funny. What I may say is funny others could see as just one big pile of nonsense, and not funny in the least bit.
Comedy has many forms, which should all be related in some way. Most people would agree that The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy. In fact it is classified as a comedy. How could it possibly be classified as a comedy if comedy is so open to interpretation? To say that comedy is just a philosophy of life and not a set of theatrical conventions should make it nearly impossible to classify The Importance of Being Earnest as a comedy, yet it is classified as just that. I would say for such a play to be considered a comedy it must have some set of theatrical conventions that set it apart from a drama or even a tragedy meaning that comedy is not just a philosophy of life.
Oscar Wilde used a number of conventions such as putting people in uncomfortable position, and making fun of the Rich and more powerful in The Importance of Being Earnest all elements that are still used today in modern comedy. His character Lady Bracknell spoofs the upper class society that exists in Oscar Wilde's time period. Maybe not in a very obvious way to us, but given a little history about the educational system that existed at the time of Oscar Wilde teamed her comment about how someone should not tamper with natural ignorance becomes understandably comical. His character John Worthing depending on his location plays two roles to give off a false impression to others about who he really is. This allows for a few very intense scenes that become more than just comical, but down right hysterical. Modern comedy uses these conventions in much the same way.
Upper class society is made fun of and imitated all the time on the TV program Saturday Night Live (SNL) where people dress up and portray famous, rich, and prominent people in todays society using a less than flattering light. Much the same way Lady Bracknell did when she was giving her views on education and that every man should have an occupation, like smoking. My point is that the comedy displayed in these two examples such as the way the Rich are made fun of, and the way people are put in to compromising situations is very similar despite the extreme difference in years between the two titles. This shows that comedy or at least the base for comedy has not changed much in over 100 years, yet society has in many extreme ways meaning that there must be a set of theatrical conventions that define comedy. Therefore one could not say comedy is a philosophy of life and still classify plays such as The Importance of Being Earnest as a comedy. Bibliography:
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Research essay sample on Upper Class Society Importance Of Being Earnest