The Jahs and Kays Simulation we did in IFP last week was, I felt, very interesting in how it not only pertained to real-life cases of the conflicts that can arise between developed and developing nations (even when they both have good intentions), but also how it showed the skills that we needed to have to effectively mediate and prevent arguments. Firstly, it was interesting to see the unique perspectives of Jahs and Kays. I was a Kay, meaning my country was highly technologically advanced and developed (something of a pseudo-utopia), and we thought we were in the right in trying to bring our prosperity and technology to the Jahs. Though I initially saw the Jahs as close-minded and content with their own issues (especially since we were told that the Jahs suffered from several plights such as unemployment, disease, lack of education, and so on), when I learnt of their perspective (them freeing themselves from the control of other countries, and being fiercely proud of their independence), I began to understand them better. Additionally, the activity taught me the importance of good, clear communication. Though our group of Kays initially went in with a very straightforward approach, we realised that the Jahs found it condescending, and eventually switched to a more constructive style of discussion. Though the talks ended up yielding little, it was still a very interesting experience.
My week in Season 1 tends to be quite variable. Monday is quite an easy start to the week, just with Philosophy club running from 3:00-4:30, giving me plenty of time to manage schoolwork. Tuesday, however, is by far the hardest day of the week, with Jakarta Street Kids taking up my lunchtime slot, and Boxing/Muay Thai running from 3:15-4:30, followed by IFP, running from 4:30-6:00. This takes up a significant amount of my day, so I’ll probably have to manage myself better by doing more work on Monday and the weekend in preparation, since I’ll have a reduced amount of time to do homework. Thankfully, Wednesday and Friday are both free days, and Thursday is also very manageable, with my service, Memoirs of the Pioneer Generation, running from 3:10-4:30, giving me plenty of time. So far, apart from Tuesday, my week is very flexible and leaves plenty of time for both homework and other pursuits, so long as I adequately prepare myself for Tuesday.
In The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde challenges the Victorian ideals of “decency” and personal identity by portraying the character of Jack/Ernest as one constantly living a double life. Though introducing himself as Ernest to Gwendolen (which, it is later revealed, is his actual name), his “real” name is Jack, and much of the drama of the play revolves around him attempting to be re-christened to change names (hence, also referencing the title of the play, “The Importance of being Ernest“). The duality of his character, with him constantly living a double life as Jack to some people, and Ernest to others, challenges the Victorian values of transparency and decency in identity by showing a deeply deceitful and untruthful character. “The cleverness of the multiplicity of the character of John/Jack/Ernest Worthing is not simply a farcical conceit […]” (The Importance of Being Out, pg. 15), indeed, it is simultaneously a source of comedy, a plot device, and a critique of society’s expectation of transparency and truthfulness.
In the first act of The Importance of Being Earnest, several characters are established as almost satirical, or at least parodic, caricatures of the traditional values of the time. Chiefly among them is Algernon, who, in stark contrast to what one would assume to be puritanic values of the time, seems to revel in cynical debauchery, often espousing absurdly crude statements such as “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.” and, upon hearing that Jack has come to town to propose to Gwendolen, “I thought you had come up for pleasure? I call that business.”. All these statements establish him as an outlier; a man living with few constraints who seems to draw pleasure from disregarding social norms and disrespecting the traditions of the time concerning marriage and sexual normalcy. Similarly cynical, Lady Bracknell is also established in the first act as a domineering, assertive woman, equally jaded with the idea of marriage, stating that “I hadn’t been there since her poor husband’s death. I never saw a woman look so altered; she looks quite twenty years younger.”. Equally so, she seems attached to societal norms, telling Jack that “[The cloak-room] could hardly be regarded as an assured basis for a recognised position in good society.”, referring to Jack’s unfortunate circumstances of birth.
How does Oscar Wilde render Act One of The Importance of Being Earnest funny?
Wilde makes use of dry sarcasm, outlandish statements, and shift in word-class to create a general sense of incongruity and absurdity in Act One, contributing to the humour of the Act. For example, upon Jack stating that he has come up to town expressly to propose to Gwendolen, Algernon responds “I thought you had come up for pleasure?… I call that business.” This statement both helps flesh out Algernon as a thoroughly unromantic character, but also creates humour; his dry sarcasm’s contrast with the lovestruck Jack gives the scene a light-hearted juxtaposition. Wilde also makes use of wildly inappropriate statements, such as when Algernon declares that “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.”. The statement is funny not only because it comes out of the blue, but also because of how it contrasts with what one would expect to be the prudish values of the time; you would never anticipate such wild licentiousness from a society as conservative as 19th-Century England. Finally, Wilde’s use of shift in word-class also creates humour in the Act, most notably in how he used “Bunburying” as a verb for sneaking away from marriage under the excuse of a (imaginary) friend being unwell, drawing on his purported friend, “Bunbury”. In a sense, the humour of the scene derives from how it contradicts the traditional representation of Victorian ideals; whereas we begin the play with a preconception of a prudish, socially conservative, traditionalist society, especially in the upper-class, Wilde contradicts this by presenting us with an image of exactly the opposite.
My name is Luca Salvatori, and my previous mathematics course was Additional Mathematics in IGCSE. Usually, the feeling I associate most with math is probably difficulty; even though I would consider myself somewhat “good” at it, I tend to get “stuck” on problems, and sometimes I miss out on a solution that’s right in front of me as a result of being somewhat frustrated. I’m starting this course optimistically, seeing as it’s also the course my brother took, but I’m also a bit apprehensive; there are times where I feel like I’m behind, mathematically speaking, of my peers. I enjoy working things out for myself in math, but I’m also not afraid to ask for help; if it’s a concept I have a hard time grasping, I’d rather have someone who understands explain it to me than continue butting heads with it until I finally get it. When I get “stuck” in math, I try to think of the process; retracing the steps I took in solving the question and seeing if I made an error along the way or if my method needs to be changed. I find that this helps me to approach a question more clearly. I’d say that I’m quite inquiring in maths, as I enjoy understanding things clearly, and I also hope that I can work on being more diligent this year.