Earnest, vous avez dit Ernest ? Oscar Wilde et la « différance »

Marie-Noëlle Zeender

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Abstract :
Like all the other comedies of Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest tackles the problem of identity. The ambiguity of the play lies essentially in the pun on words between the first name “Ernest”; and the adjective “earnest”;, that are both perfectly homophonic but have very different meanings and spellings. In fact, the “différance”; between the two terms depends on the presence or absence of the letter “a.”; However, it is now well-known that “Ernest”; meant “homosexual”; in late Victorian slang. The ambiguity then is no longer twofold but threefold, and the play turns out to be more subversive than it seems at first sight.
Published : 2005-06-25


Marie-Noëlle Zeender, « Earnest, vous avez dit Ernest ? Oscar Wilde et la « différance » », Cycnos, 2005-06-25. URL : http://epi-revel.univ-cotedazur.fr/publication/item/707