Teaching Students About Algernon and the Importance of Being Earnest

As a teacher, one of the greatest joys is introducing students to the beauty and complexity of literature. Among the many classic works of literature, Algernon and The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde is a must-read for every student. These two plays are known for their wit, humor, and satirical commentary on the Victorian era. The plays are a great tool for teaching students about literary devices, themes, and the role of satire in literature.

Teaching students about Algernon and The Importance of Being Earnest may seem daunting, but it is highly rewarding.

Here are some tips for teaching students about these two brilliant plays:

Introduce Students To The Author

To help students understand the context in which the play was written, it’s important to introduce them to Oscar Wilde’s life and his work. Discuss how he was a leading figure of the aesthetic movement, which emphasized individualism, personal expression, and beauty. Focus on his use of comedy and satire as tools of social commentary and how his portrayal of characters reveals his beliefs about society.

Focus on Literary Devices

Algernon and The Importance of Being Earnest are rich in literary devices that help readers appreciate the value of language. Students should identify language use such as irony, puns, satire, sarcasm, and paradox to maximize their understanding of the work. Wilde’s characters are a perfect example of how language can be used to create witty dialogue and social commentary.

Theme Exploration

Both Algernon and The Importance of Being Earnest are known for their commentary on society and the state of culture in the Victorian era. Teaching themes like class, gender, morality, and deceit will lead to a deeper appreciation of the work.

Encourage Students to Act Them Out

Plays are meant to be performed, so incorporating some performance activities into the coursework is crucial. Students can take on characters themselves and act out scenes, or teachers can do a live performance. This brings excitement to the classroom and goes a long way to help students understand and analyze the works better.

In conclusion, teaching students about Algernon and The Importance of Being Earnest is a well-worth endeavor. These two plays provide a wealth of opportunities to explore literary devices, themes, and the context in which they were written. The satirical commentary contained in the plays still has relevance in today’s society, making it even more relevant for students. With these tips, you can help your students appreciate the value of literature and the influence of Oscar Wilde’s work.  

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