importance of being honest

importance of being earnest

Currently, I am on vacation in Florida, so this will be my post for the week. I’ve gotten some  ideas for the next few weeks (and I’m going to start a long-scale project for which I am very excited to begin in a bit). There’s some issues that I really need to tackle, just for myself, so it’s going to be hard, rough, slow going for me. I may not be able to post every week day like I have been, since I’m going to have to slug through these issues at my own pace. But, I think they’re becoming more important for me to really wrestle with, so I’m finally doing it after avoiding it for weeks.

But, for the moment, I am on vacation. Last night I went and saw a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. If you’ve never seen it the play performed, the film adaptation is pretty solid (after all, who doesn’t love Colin Firth in Victorian frippery?).

The most hysterical part was the location of where I saw this play performed: I was at my undergrad college. I’d seen it performed there a little under ten years ago now, and it never occurred to me back then how funny the play actually is in that context. The Importance of Being Earnest is a scathing critique on Victorian society, and Wilde spares no one. Like all excellent satire, he makes a mockery of the rich and powerful: their social dynamics, their priorities, their politics, their ideals.

My undergrad college shares all of the same issues.

The play advocates toward a more post-modern understanding of human interactions and the rules and boundaries we set, and it especially critiques the Victorian (read: complementarian) approach to gender roles, which Wilde portrays as completely ridiculous to the highest degree. My undergrad college idolizes those roles to the same ridiculous degree that the characters act out.

What made it so horribly ironic was that the audience was completely blind to the fact that the play was satirizing them. I was laughing my head off the entire way through, and many people were turning around and staring. They had no idea what the play was actually saying about the way they choose to live. It was weird to be the only person to get the joke. Normally, I’m the one who doesn’t quite catch on to the cultural references.

Handsome even pointed out the quote they chose to open their playbill: “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” He just laughed and commented that it was a strange quote for the college to endorse, since they proclaim that the truth is always pure and simple. They probably only saw it as some of the nonsense Algernon Montcrieff lets fly throughout the play and used it to comment on the Liz Lemon–style “TWIST!” at the end. They have no idea how very true that statement is.

Also, side note: I wore a Grecian-stye wrap dress with a deep V neckline. Oh, the judging judgment and the glares that would have roasted me alive a few years ago. Seriously, guys, mouths dropped open and claws came out. It was spectacular.

Enjoy this week, and I’ll see you on the other side.

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  • I love Earnest! The level of irony is high about the location, I agree.

    It is odd to be the one that gets the joke. Early in our marriage, my wife and I attended a performance of Much Ado About Nothing at the local (secular) community college, and with the exception of a few older theater buffs, we were the only ones snickering at the hilarious naughty bits. I never thought it would be the home schoolers that would get the innuendo while our secular peers would miss it. Go figure…

  • I LOVE that play. I just saw it pretty recently (and in Asia of all places). That is so funny that you saw it at a conservative college, and that no one else picked up on this, LOL.

  • i’ve never seen it, but it sounds hilarious. Surely SOMEONE involved in the production had to get the joke? do you think heads will roll when somebody realizes it’s satirical critique? also your dress sounds beautiful 😀
    shhhhh don’t tell anyone but when i go to homeschool events i purposely select something i know i would never have worn ‘back then’. I mean, i’m not wearing a bikini top or nothin but still i deliberately don’t toe the line. it’s my subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) rebellion against the societal norms of the really controlling subculture.
    the one thing i was REALLY nervous about getting looks about was when i cut my hair shorter than my husbands…. and i got like a dozen raving complements. Lol i guess you just never know 😀

    • Michelle

      OMG! I do this too! Drives my mother crazy!

  • notleia

    Warning: I’m going to tangent HARD right now.
    I’m curious as to why you keep using “post-modern” to describe people who were technically Modern, like T.S. Eliot, or late Victorian/proto-Modern, like Wilde. It’s not important, but it bugs me as an English major.
    But, yeah, I know that feel of conservative church culture and Victorian culture being similar to an almost disturbing level. But I’m not really in a place where I can point out the deconstructions of those Victorian-ish assumptions, not to mention that those deconstructions have been happening over the last century+.

    • Thanks for pointing out the distinctions. I was an English grad student, so I understand the annoyance. For the purposes of my writing here, it’s difficult to explain all if the nuances when it’s tertiary to my main point. For convenience, I don’t use “modern,” or “Victorian” when I’m talking about these sorts of ideas, because the uninitiated tend to associate “modern” with the Enlightenment, and Victorian with Regency era and early Victorian ideas. When I’m talking about Eliot or Wilde or others, it’s easier to lump them in with post-modernism as many of their ideas align with the early stages of the movement.

  • Gail

    “I wore a Grecian-stye wrap dress with a deep V neckline. Oh, the judging judgment and the glares that would have roasted me alive a few years ago. Seriously, guys, mouths dropped open and claws came out. It was spectacular.”

    Bravo! Love this.

    I repented several years ago of turtlenecks & long skirts. It is lovely to be a woman who is free.

  • Tony

    I am intrigued that you ventured back to the college campus… I have lived here in the same town – actually drive by the front gate every morning on my commute – and I avoid going there by all means possible. 🙂 You are brave.

    • I was one of the lucky ones who managed to escape that place with a degree and no serious altercations with Student Life or DC. There were a few instances that were less than pleasant, but I never had huge problems. Plus, my sister was graduating. 🙂