Some times it makes me wonder that this play was written ages ago This book seems to be a contemporary classic It seems there are lots of movies based on the theme of this play And one thing I noticed that it has all the spices of an Indian comedy movie It s full of witticism and humour, but sometimes so silly that you cannot stop laughing out loud A fun read that will make you forget your troubles for a while Hilarious and entertaining read, the wit and sarcasm in this book was outta this world Oscar Wilde S Madcap Farce About Mistaken Identities, Secret Engagements, And Lovers Entanglements Still Delights Readers Than A Century After Its Publication And Premiere Performance The Rapid Fire Wit And Eccentric Characters Of The Importance Of Being Earnest Have Made It A Mainstay Of The High School Curriculum For DecadesCecily Cardew And Gwendolen Fairfax Are Both In Love With The Same Mythical Suitor Jack Worthing Has Wooed Gwendolen As Ernest While Algernon Has Also Posed As Ernest To Win The Heart Of Jack S Ward, Cecily When All Four Arrive At Jack S Country Home On The Same Weekend The Rivals To Fight For Ernest S Undivided Attention And The Ernests To Claim Their Beloveds Pandemonium Breaks Loose Only A Senile Nursemaid And An Old, Discarded Hand Bag Can Save The Day This Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Edition Includes A Glossary And Reader S Notes To Help The Modern Reader Appreciate Wilde S Wry Wit And Elaborate Plot Twists This 1895 play about mistaken and hidden identities is my favorite by Oscar Wilde One of the wittiest plays ever Algernon is visited in his town home by his friend Ernest, who intends to propose to Algernon s cousin Gwendolen Algernon manages to dig out his friend s secret his name is actually Jack.Jack has an 18 year old ward, Cecily, who lives in his country home So he uses the name Ernest when he is in town so he can live it up a little, and then tells Cecily about his wastrel younger brother Ernest when he stays with her in the country Algernon is instantly intrigued and wants to meet Cecily Jack refuses Enter Jack s beloved, Gwendolen, with her mother, Lady Bracknell, the epitome of Victorian shallowness, materialism and moral superiority Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon Only people who can t get into it do that Gwendolen is delighted to accept Jack s proposal, but her mother refuses to approve the engagement Jack is a foundling who doesn t know who his parents are To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune to lose both looks like carelessness So things are at a standstill until Algernon sneaks off to visit Jack s country home and meet Cecily He introduces himself as Jack s wayward brother Ernest Love at first sight, and comedy heaven, ensue Both Gwendolen and Cecily are bound and determined to marry a man named Ernest There is something in that name that seems to inspire absolute confidence You can see the clash coming, but it s even better when it happens than you could imagine.It s a quick read, just under 100 pages on my Kindle Everybody wants to be earnest or Ernest but nobody really is or are they It s the most intriguing combination of delightful frothiness and absurdity, but with a strong streak of social satire and criticism of society s shallowness and materialism running through it I can t recommend it highly enough.Reading this is great, but seeing it is even better I haven t seen the 2002 film with Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon and Judi Dench, which sounds fantastic But I can vouch for the 1952 film, which is an absolute delight, with Michael Redgrave and Dame Edith Evans in the role of her life as the imposing Lady Bracknell. I read The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde as part of classics bingo to satisfy my satire square Educated at Oxford in the late 19th century, Wilde was a product of strict upper class British social s He married and fathered two children and then came out as homosexual Wilde s plays and novellas poked fun at the society which had renounced him and later put him on trial Earnest received good marks in London prior to Wilde s social downfall and has made a comeback in classic reading circles Although not usually a fan of comedy, I could not help but chuckle at the premise of this play Jack Worthing is a man of unknown origins He had been found at a train station inside of a handbag by a Thomas Worthing, who gave Jack his name and adopted him as a nephew Jack, perhaps Wilde s alter ego, grows to detest the society that he lives in, and gives himself the name Ernest while living in London, fooling all but his closest companions Among the upper crust that he usually loathes, Jack as Ernest falls for one Gwendolen Bracknell, who only desires to marry him because of Ernest s earnest personality As a result, the charade continues The play shifts to the countryside where Worthing owns an estate and is ward to his niece Cecily There he is only known as Uncle Jack and is head of the household Hoping to one up Worthing with his trickery, his friend Algernon Montcrieff comes to call and poses as Jack s supposed brother Ernest Cecily falls for Algernon as Ernest because of his name and earnest personality and the lies and charades continue to a third act Eventually, Wilde ties up the deceitfulness neatly in three acts I am not a fan of comedy and felt things carried on a bit far Most of Wilde s work, Earnest included, was meant to mock the society who ridiculed him for being homosexual Wilde ridiculed them back with the inclusion of the character Bunbury and noted that Algernon was a Bunburyist I imagine that the audience laughed at this dialogue, but to me it is alarming that the upper class British society at the time was so rigid as to not allow for deviations from its s With Earnest, Wilde was able to poke fun at both society and himself Oscar Wilde s plays have stood the test of time as satirical comedies I chose to read one of his plays because I read Dorian Gray years ago in school and did not enjoy it Desiring to see if my perspective had changed, I selected one of Wilde s plays for my satire in bingo At this point, I understood the comedy but still felt that the joking carried on a bit far, proving that I am a fan of dramatic plays Still, The Importance of Being Earnest was a worthy read in that it shed light on 19th century England and its customs As a result, I rate this play 3 stars. If you try to take this literally, it is ludicrous, so don t It is a delicately crafted confection of spun sugar sweet but sharp, beautiful, brittle, and engineered to amuse An iridescent filament of fantasy , as critic William Archer described the opening performance on Valentine s Day 1895 In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing. GwendolenThis play is a social comedy that celebrates surfaces the flexible importance of etiquette as long as it s underpinned by money , and the essential veneer of politeness especially when insulting someone It is chock full of often contrary epigrams, even from Algy s dryly droll manservant, Lane The deadly importance of the triviality is everything , as Sir John Gielgud said of this play, aping Wilde s style.PlotJack and Algernon are wealthy, single, shallow young men in Victorian London Jack wants to marry Algy s cousin Gwendolen daughter of Lady Bracknell , but matters are complicated when Algy finds Jack s cigarette case, with a puzzling dedication engraved in it, from Cecily Algy is intrigued, and not at all convinced by Jack s explanation The truth is rarely pure and never simple. AlgernonThe plot is clever and silly, and really just a framework for exploring ideas about society, marriage, education, and food Food features a great deal, in all three acts, even though it has no real bearing on the plot at all.This play has given us A Hand bag, the double life of a Bunburyist written just before Wilde s own double life quite exploded , like poor Bunbury , the impossibility of eating muffins in an agitated manner, and two much quoted and paraphrased lines To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune to lose both looks like carelessness. Lady Bracknell All women become like their mothers That is their tragedy No man does, and that is his. AlgernonThe ending is apparently happy, despite only one of two key points being definitively resolved Perhaps that s to placate Cecily I don t like novels that end happily They depress me so much. No matter Wilde s wit is the thing.Then and NowThe original audience would have laughed at the portrayal of themselves, or those in their circle Our modern society seems so very different, but we are still there, in the play Lady Bracknell s alternative facts quoted below , Miss Prism s trashy trilogy, being swayed by the vagaries of fashion, and torn between pleasure and duty, comfort eating, and even the difficulty of finding suitable childcare We should laugh at ourselves, as much as them.I have nothing in common with Cecily Cardew except a first name, but the novelty of encountering another Cecily was a small part in its initial appeal and is an even smaller part of my enduring fondness for it I have read and seen it including an operatic adaptation many times, and acted in it once but not as Cecily.WH Auden described this as The only pure verbal opera in English Who am I or you to disagree A Hand bag To be born, or at any rate bred, in a hand bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution. Lady Bracknell Picture of baby in a somewhat large, black leather hand bag, with handles to it.Lady Bracknell would have been early 40s, but aged Edith Evans cinematic exaggeration is the performance that sticks, regardless of how subsequent actors deliver it FactsLady Bracknell has many questions to assess a suitor, including their all important address es Lady Bracknell What number in Belgrave Square Jack 149 Lady Bracknell Shaking her head The unfashionable side I thought there was something However, that could easily be altered Jack Do you mean the fashion, or the side Lady Bracknell Sternly Both, if necessary, I presume Quotes Grouped by SubjectThese are hidden for brevity No real plot spoilers view spoiler Food Quotes I hate people who are not serious about meals It is so shallow of them. AlgernonThe play is rife with storms over teacups, muffins, cucumber sandwiches lack thereof , and cake, none of which affect the plot, but all of which shine a dark light on the characters.Jack How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can t make out You seem to me to be perfectly heartless Algernon Well, I can t eat muffins in an agitated manner The butter would probably get on my cuffs One should always eat muffins quite calmly It is the only way to eat them Jack I say it s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances Picture English muffin, toasted, and butteredAlgernon Picking up empty plate in horror Good heavens Lane Why are there no cucumber sandwiches I ordered them specially Lane Gravely There were no cucumbers in the market this morning, sir I went down twice Algernon No cucumbers Lane No, sir Not even for ready money When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me Indeed, when I am in really great trouble, as any one who knows me intimately will tell you, I refuse everything except food and drink Algernon You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar, and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, you have given me cake Gwendolen to CecilyEducation and Erudition Quotes I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit touch it and the bloom is gone The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever Lady Bracknell Literary criticism is not your forte, my dear fellow Don t try it You should leave that to people who haven t been at a University They do it so well in the daily papers Algernon Oh it is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn t More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn t read Algernon Dr Chasuble is a most learned man He has never written a single book, so you can imagine how much he knows Cecily I never travel without my diary One should always have something sensational to read in the train GwendolenPersonal note I was only a little younger than Wilde s Cecily when I first saw the play At the time, I kept a diary of sorts, but afterwards, it never felt quite the same I suppose it wasn t sensational enough Society and Etiquette Quotes Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon Only people who can t get into it do that Lady Bracknell Thirty five is a very attractive age London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty five for years Lady Bracknell My duty as a gentleman has never interfered with my pleasures in the smallest degree Algernon When one is in town one amuses oneself When one is in the country one amuses other people It is excessively boring Jack I never saw anybody take so long to dress, and with such little result Algernon of Jack Bunbury QuotesLady Bracknell I think it is high time that Mr Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die This shilly shallying with the question is absurd Algernon The doctors found out that Bunbury could not live, that is what I mean so Bunbury died Lady Bracknell He seems to have had great confidence in the opinion of his physicians I am glad, however, that he made up his mind at the last to some definite course of action, and acted under proper medical advice Marriage Quotes You don t seem to realise, that in married life three is company and two is none Algernon Lane s views on marriage seem somewhat lax Really, if the lower orders don t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility Algernon I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing Which do you know Lady Bracknell A moment, Mr Worthing A hundred and thirty thousand pounds And in the Funds Miss Cardew seems to me a most attractive young lady, now that I look at her Few girls of the present day have any really solid qualities, any of the qualities that last, and improve with time We live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces To Cecily Come over here, dear Cecily goes across Pretty child your dress is sadly simple, and your hair seems almost as Nature might have left it But we can soon alter all that A thoroughly experienced French maid produces a really marvellous result in a very brief space of time Lady Bracknell I do not approve of mercenary marriages When I married Lord Bracknell I had no fortune of any kind But I never dreamed for a moment of allowing that to stand in my way Lady BracknellAnd THAT is why she is so picky about who might marry Gwendolen When you do become engaged to some one, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be Lady Bracknell I am not in favour of long engagements They give people the opportunity of finding out each other s character before marriage, which I think is never advisable Lady Bracknell The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous It looks so bad It is simply washing one s clean linen in public AlgernonCecily Do you suggest, Miss Fairfax, that I entrapped Ernest into an engagement How dare you This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners When I see a spade I call it a spade Gwendolen Satirically I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different The General was essentially a man of peace, except in his domestic life Lady BracknellChasuble With a scholar s shudder The precept as well as the practice of the Primitive Church was distinctly against matrimony Miss Prism Sententiously That is obviously the reason why the Primitive Church has not lasted up to the present day And you do not seem to realise, dear Doctor, that by persistently remaining single, a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation Men should be careful this very celibacy leads weaker vessels astray Miss Prism No married man is ever attractive except to his wife Chasuble And often, I ve been told, not even to her Other Contrary QuotesMany of the most memorable lines subvert etiquette, logic, common sense and themselves In Wilde s day, homosexuals were often called inverts, and many of his best lines are inversions I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being good all the time That would be hypocrisy Cecily If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life Gwendolen Although she may prevent us from becoming man and wife, and I may marry some one else, and marry often, nothing that she can possibly do can alter my eternal devotion to you Gwendolen What on earth you are serious about I haven t got the remotest idea About everything, I should fancy You have such an absolutely trivial nature Algernon of Jack I have never met any really wicked person before I feel rather frightened I am so afraid he will look just like every one else Cecily The old fashioned respect for the young is fast dying out Gwendolen I could deny it if I liked I could deny anything if I liked Lady Bracknell I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbury I hadn t been there since her poor husband s death I never saw a woman so altered she looks quite twenty years younger Lady Bracknell I had some crumpets with Lady Harbury, who seems to me to be living entirely for pleasure now Algernon I hear her hair has turned quite gold from grief hide spoiler To lose one parent may be regarded as misfortune to lose both looks like carelessness I wish, with all my heart, someone would ask me Hey have you read anything by Oscar Wilde Just so I could emphatically say YES Yes I have I did feel like I have accomplished some unknown personal reading goal with this I ve read Oscar Wilde now And wasn t he a riot Lady Bracknell, hands down, the MVP of this story All the best lines were from her ladyship I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbury I hadn t been there since her poor husband s death I never saw a woman so altered she looks quite twenty years younger.Come, dear, we have already missed five, if not six, trains To miss any might expose us to comment on the platform.I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothingA thoroughly experienced French maid produces a really marvelous result in a very brief space of time I remember recommending one to young Lady Lancing, and after three months her own husband did not know her. Algernon Algy Moncrieff, is being visited, by his enigmatic friend, Ernest Worthing, that is Ernest in town and Jack John , in the country It s a long story, but we have time, Mr.Worthing, likes to go to town Get as far as possible, away from his stifling, depressing, responsibilities at home, change his name to Ernest and becomes his younger brother who doesn t exist Do the wrong things, everybody has secrets, still lies in fact, flow like maple syrup on pancakes, from his lips That s the charm of this play, finding out the truth, strange but the facts, will eventually make it all right The constantly broke Algernon, also likes telling a few untruths, he has an imaginary friend, at his age Bunbury, chiefly used, by Mr Moncrieff, to get out of going, to see the intimidating Lady Bracknell, his aunt Friend Bunbury, always becomes gravely ill, just as his presence is needed , at his relative s residence, the good man, goes to see the sick friend, what devotion There are not many like him, around any, but the sick man inevitably recovers, which greatly irritates his Aunt Augusta, wishing that Bunbury, makes up his mind, is he staying or going Lady Bracknell is very, very, scary, she makes people uncomfortable, the sooner they get out of her sight, the comfortable they becomeHer husband , Lord Bracknell, hides upstairs and is not seen very often, except by his family, most people in London don t know he exists His wife likes it that way Today Aunt Augusta, comes to see her nephew, bringing along her quiet daughter, Gwendolen Ernest Jack is madly in love with her, she seems not to mind too much, but of course there is a problem Ernest was found in a railroad station, in a handbag, at the tender age of one, nobody knew where he came from, fortunately for the baby, being adopted by his founder, a very rich, and kindly, old gentleman Who, when he expired, left him, Ernest, a wealthy man, in his will, 28 years later, complications arise, Mr Worthing, proposes to Algernon s cousin, she accepts, yet Lady Bracknell seems dubious He is not on her list, of worthy bachelors, starts asking questions, who are his parents Tells the great lady , he doesn t have any, she replies, that seems like carelessness, which annoys the not quite earnest, Ernest Now the unethical Mr.Moncrieff, is eavesdropping, writes down his friend s unknown address, the shy man, never told him, and after everyone leaves, he hops on a train and arrives at Worthing s home Pretends to be Ernest, Jack s never seen evil brother, another pretend surprise, at meeting with Cecily, his friend s beautiful 18 year old ward, granddaughter of his late benefactor Love at first sight, she wants to reform the notorious man, he s very willing to become respectable , all is going well, but Jack this is the country , returns home, you guessed it , also the fearsome, Lady Bracknell and daughter Trouble, with a capital T, both girls are engaged to a man called Ernest Which cause hurt feelings and a lot of turmoil, name calling and disagreeable scenes, before the resolution of our playA witty and amusing story, making fun of the foibles of the upper class , by Oscar Wilde who else When I was quite young I guess, if you were of a mind to, you might say it was a generation ago I was listening to a radio program and for some reason they decided to do the handbag scene from The Importance of Being Earnest I d heard of the play before, obviously, but only the name I had thought it would be some terribly dreary thing, having no idea just how funny a man Wilde was The guy on the radio gave it quite a build up saying something to the effect that this scene is not just one of the funniest in what is a very funny play, but perhaps one of the funniest scenes in the whole of English drama I waited fully expecting to be disappointed.Naturally, I howled with laughter It is very hard to explain just how funny it is hearing a woman one of those English upper class aunts that Wodehouse also made a living out of depicting can be saying the words, A handbag Now, who would ever have thought that perhaps the funniest line in the whole of English drama could possibly be, A handbag I say this without the least fear of spoiling the joke for you, by the way, if you ve never read or seen the play A mistake that must be remedied immediately if you never have seen it, by the way.It would be all too easy to dismiss this play as a light romantic comedy Although it is about a series of near thwarted romances the stuff of a million chick flicks and romantic comedies going back as far as the eye can see in drama this is also something much, much It is also a delightfully amusing commentary on human sexual relations, the English class system and much importantly a perfect mirror on the amusing excesses of human selfishness In fact, some of the best lines in the play, and the funniest lines in the play, highlight our near infinite capacity to love ourselves To quote only a few and without hardly looking If you are not too long, I will wait for you all my life Oh Not at all, Gwendolen I am very fond of being looked at If I am occasionally overdressed, I make up for it by being always immensely over educated I don t play accurately anyone can play accurately but I play with wonderful expression You see, it her diary is simply a very young girl s record of her thoughts and impressions, and consequently meant for publication The other terribly interesting thing in this play is the role of family Not only are the families quite dysfunctional, even when people know who their parents are, but the title character is about as confused about how he fits into the complex world of family relations as it is possible to make someone The thing that makes the line about the handbag quite so funny is that this handbag is about the closest thing he has to family in the entire world As Pascal once said, we laugh and cry about the same things I m going to finish with my favourite exchange in the play, other than, obviously, the handbag scene which is incomparable Lady Bracknell Is this Miss Prism a female of repellent aspect, remotely connected with education Chasuble Somewhat indignantly She is the most cultivated of ladies, and the very picture of respectability.Lady Bracknell It is obviously the same person Wilde is, it hardly needs to be said, the closest thing to a God we are likely to have visit us on this planet There are, for example, even now, than 100 years after his death, entire companies that produce desk calendars that would not be in business if not for the endless supply of quotes he provides for the foot of Monday the Ninth of February and so on.If humour comes in a spectrum and slapstick is at one end of that spectrum, then this is the other end. If you are not too long, I will wait for you all my life Ah, Mr Wilde can always be counted on to make me laugh, to poke fun at the ridiculousness of human behaviour, to tell a story that is both incredibly clever and undeniably silly The Importance of Being Earnest is a play about mistaken identity, lies, the English class system, and the never ending vanity and selfishness of high society members And it s hilarious It s one of few pre 20th century comedies to have maintained it s laugh factor to this day And one of the few plays I actually enjoy to read The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever The story is about Ernest Ernest is a number of people John Worthing, John Worthing s imaginary brother, and Algernon Montcrieff in short, Ernest does not exist but is rather the creation of John s and Algernon s overactive and untruthful minds As the pair create a web of lies in order to impress the women in their lives who absolutely adore the name Ernest, they become and tangled in their mess When the two meet whilst playing their imaginary characters to different people, their lies start to unravel.Wilde takes us on a mocking journey through the lives of several wealthy 19th century people His dialogue is witty and brimming with jokes at the expense of the upper classes, I especially like Lady Bracknell s response to John Worthing being an orphan when she is assessing whether he is good enough for her daughterTo lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune to lose both looks like carelessness And a few gems I never travel without my diary One should always have something sensational to read in the train My dear fellow, the truth isn t quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice, sweet, refined girl What extraordinary ideas you have about the way to behave to a woman To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.
Oscar Fingal O Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet, and author of numerous short stories, and one novel Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being
- 76 pages
- The Importance of Being Earnest
- Oscar Wilde
- 18 August 2018 Oscar Wilde