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Higher Drama Example Essay

Updated on July 11, 2017

As a designer, describe in detail, five aspects from your selected text, which convey the main themes of the play. (You must use textual evidence from the play to help justify your answers).

As a designer, explain in detail five staging and/or design concepts that you would use to reveal these main themes to the audience. (These should relate to the first part of the question).


I will highlight how many marks each section received by putting them at the end and in bold. I will also underline important elements of the statements that gain the marks.

One of my own early set elevations for act one.
One of my own early set elevations for act one.

1. In the Importance of being Earnest by Oscar Wilde there are many themes and issues that arise in the plot. One recurring theme is lying, one example of this is shown in the play when Algernon goes out to Jack's country estate and introduces himself as Ernest, which is first read out by Cecily "Mr Ernest Worthing B4 the Albany" this tells the audience that the characters have been deceived by Algernon. (2 marks)

As a designer I would try to convey this theme of false truth to the audience by using a recurring sound effect quietly in the background whenever another character was lying about something. The sound I would use would perhaps be like charms blowing in the wind as if it were a light bulb moment. At first I would expect the audience not to take notice but then after a while they would perhaps notice this theme running through the play. (2 marks)

2. Another theme that appears in the importance of being earnest is that of power and wealth this theme runs through the play. One example of when this is shown is in the first act when lady Bracknell has taken control of the scene and decided to interview Jack to see whether he is eligible to marry Gwendolen. "what is your income?" showing that she is very interested in wealth and that its very important that her daughter marry a rich man. (2 marks)

As a designer I would try to convey this theme of wealth and power through costume. For example I would make lady Bracknell wear the height of fashion dresses of that time for older women. I would have the costume made up with expensive materials like fur, satin and silks and velvet's anything to show her wealth compared to what other characters wear in the play I would show her power within the colours of her costume deep reds, purples and blacks would show this to the audience. (2 marks)

3. Another theme that appears in the play is love as by the end of the play all the characters apart from lady Bracknell are matched up and going to be married to one another. An example of this in the play is in the first act when Jack is proposing to Gwendolen and leading up to that when they flirt with one another. "Gwendolen ever since I met you I've adored you." Said when Jack was confessing his love for Gwendolen. (2 marks)

I would try to portray this theme of love as a designer by using rose coloured gels to romanticise the scenes with the characters who love each other. I would also use sound to help portray this by involving romantic music playing quietly in the background so it doesn't over power what the character's are doing or saying. (2 marks)

4. Another theme highlighted in the play is that of appearance which resonates quite heavily with the character of Algernon. One example that represented this is in act 2 with Cecily in the garden, "can i have a buttonhole first, I can never eat anything without a buttonhole" which emphasised his obsession with his appearance. (2 marks)

As a designer I would show this theme of appearance by portraying it through set dressings. I would place a lot of mirrors around the set in act one and act two to create the idea and symbolise the theme of appearance which was so important to the upper classes of that time. (1 mark)

5. One last theme implied in the importance of being Earnest is that of duty and respectability shown throughout the acts conveying the rules of Victorian society in Britain. One example in the production where this is shown is in act one when lady Bracknell has just stopped Gwendolen and Jack from getting engaged "whenever you are engaged I or your father should his health permit him will inform you of that fact." showing that young Victorian women couldn't make up their own mind it was their parents duty to decide who they should marry. (2 marks)

As a designer I would try to show this through design by using costume and hair. I would make all the characters look precise, clean and conservative as if they looked pristine to make them look respectable to the world apart from Miss Prism who I would suggest had slightly messy hair to show her eccentric personality as she does not conform to this theme apart from the way she dresses. (2 marks)

I hope this is a helpful resource for students and other people in how to structure a critical drama essay. Best of luck for exams and assignments.

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