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The Hunger and Humour of Algernon

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The Hunger and Humour of Algernon

The hunger and humor of Algernon

When Oscar Wilde wrote The Importance of Being Earnest he gave birth to a wonderful character named Algernon Moncrieff. In this essay we will see how the appetites of this character add to the humor of this play. To analyze this we will look at his character traits. Algernon’s traits of gluttony, dishonesty, romance and wit hive us delightful humor throughout the play.

As a glutton, Algernon puts his appetite first and people second. In the beginning of the play, he has cucumber sandwiches put out on a tray for his Aunt Augusta, who will be arriving soon. Knowing that these are for his Aunt Augusta, Algernon begins to eat the sandwiches. When Jack try’s to eat one, Algernon interferes stating they are ordered specially for his Aunt. After that he continues to eat them all. Later in the play at Jacks country manor, Jack confronts Algernon about his behavior with Cecily and his Bunburying. Instead of getting agitated, Algernon just calmly eats the muffins that are on the table. When Jack tries to stop him, he snatches the muffins back and continues to eat them as if nothing else mattered. After this Jack asks Algernon to leave and go back to the city. Knowing that he is not wanted, Algernon simply states that he cannot leave until he has eaten dinner first. In the play, Algernons hunger is not left to food alone.

Another hunger he has is having fun. Algernon uses dishonesty to add more fun and excitement into his life. When Aunt Augusta asks for a cucumber sandwich, Algernon goes to the table to get them. Knowing that there will be none, he acts surprised when he sees the empty tray. Algernon then acts as though he is distressed by until his aunt tells him that it does not matter. Another device that Algernon uses for fun is an invalid friend named Bunbury. Whenever Algernon wants to get out of town, he says that he is going to visit Bunbury who is in need of his company. He also uses Bunbury as an excuse to get out of dinner engagements with his Aunt Augusta. Instead of being bored to death, Algernon can now go out and have fun with friends. Later in the play, when eavesdropping on Jack and Gwendolen, Algernon learns the address to Jacks country manor. Knowing that he should not be there, Algernon sees this as a chance to have fun and go Bunburying. When he arrives in the country he introduces himself to Cecily as Jacks brother Ernest. Knowing that Jack has no brother, Algernon does not care as long as he is having fun.

Aside from his eating and joking, Algernon humors us in other ways. Algernons views of romance change from disrespectful to being very passionate. In the start of the play, Algernon does not see anything romantic about marriage proposal. He believes that the uncertainty before marriage is the essence of romance. Algernons behavior towards woman is also disrespectful. He tells Jack; “The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to someone else, if she is plain.” This comment is made to shock us. At the same time,

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