2201 Fall 2021 Essay #1 Assignment
Our first essay requires you to write about Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and one other drama that we have read. Below, you’ll find three assignment options. You must choose one of these three prompts and respond in essay form. Each prompt is designed to propel you toward an insightful, clear thesis statement that argues for a debatable claim. You will then need to gather evidence in the form of many specific details – plot points, quotes, character analysis – to support your thesis. Each prompt is also designed to get you thinking creatively about each drama. To do well on this assignment, show me that you have a solid understanding of the plays and the material we’ve covered in class.
Length: 3 FULL pages (no more than 4), excluding Works Cited page
Format: MLA format for both in-text citations and works cited entry. Times New Roman, 12-point font, double spaced, 1” margins.
Research: You are not required to do any outside research for this essay. If you choose to support your thesis with research, please keep in mind that I am interested in what you think about the plays. Keep in mind, you only have three pages, and I am grading your engagement with the texts.
1. Aestheticism says only beauty matters, or as Gwendolyn proclaims, “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing” (Wilde 1833). The comedy of manners genre makes light of impropriety, and Wilde himself celebrates silliness over seriousness. You need to take The Importance of Being Earnest “seriously.” What is its underlying morality or sincere message? Cite at least one other play we have read this semester to help explain your answer, and use plenty of specific details, quotes, and insights from both plays to support your answer
2. We’ve covered two comedies this semester. Would The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) or A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1596) be more popular – that is, have more attendance and greater resonate with audiences – in the fall of 2021? Which one would speak more to a modern audience? Why would the other have less resonance? Use plenty of specific details, quotes, and insights from both plays to support your answer.
3. Both Oedipus the King and The Importance of Being Earnest reach their climax with revelations about true parentage. Sophocles uses this revelation to bring catastrophic tragedy to Oedipus, while Wilde uses it to bestow glorious comedy to Ernest. Why do these plays put so much significance on names and parentage, and what are they saying about the inevitability of fate? Use plenty of specific details, quotes, and insights from both plays to support your answer.