What a penetrating critique of high Victorian society this becomes; but rather than being a dull argument or essay, it takes on the body of a hilarious play. Through this Wilde is demonstrating the ridiculous nature of Victorian morality, and how concerned it is with a perfect societal image. Whilst social mobility is possible in Wildes play, it is resented by those that are the established elite regardless of their own meagre origins. This demonstrates the greed that permeates the morale fabric of Victorian society, as neither of these men actually actively work and they just spend their time self-indulging through their respective false identities. The rich have a sense of false entitlement that Wilde questions heroically; he demonstrates that the supposed morale fabric that governs higher society is completely false: it is a trick, a mere appearance whilst the members live secret lives. The persona of Earnest becomes a means of escape for Jack, and later Algernon; it becomes a means for letting loose and maintaining his position within society. He can bare all the graces of a Victorian gentleman, the perfects ideal, but he can also have fun. The Victorians judged people on their appearance and their supposed morale character. Bracknell takes on the role of clan patriarch, and the men have typical female traits whilst the women become active in seeking their ideal husband. At times they say things that make absolutely no sense, but such is the nature of ideals. The point is that people can become so enamoured, so quickly, with an ideal that doesnt exist. Its Wildes perfect demonstration of how stupid Victorian society was.
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. Now, who would ever have thought that perhaps the funniest line in the whole of English drama could possibly be, A handbag? To quote only a few and without hardly looking: If you are not too long, I will wait for you all my life. The other terribly interesting thing in this play is the role of family. Im 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?
Ernest is a number of people: John Worthing, John Worthing's imaginary brother, and Algernon Montcrieff... 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 more and more 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.
Algernon is visited in his town home by his friend Ernest, who intends to propose to Algernon's cousin Gwendolen. Algernon is instantly intrigued and wants to meet Cecily; Jack refuses. until Algernon sneaks off to visit Jack's country home and meet Cecily. Reading this is great, but seeing it is even better.
Gwendolen This 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. Plot Jack and Algernon are wealthy, single, shallow young men in Victorian London. Jack wants to marry Algys cousin Gwendolen (daughter of Lady Bracknell), but matters are complicated when Algy finds Jacks cigarette case, with a puzzling dedication engraved in it, from Cecily. Algernon The plot is clever and silly, and really just a framework for exploring ideas about society, marriage, education, and food. This play has given us A Hand-bag, the double life of a Bunburyist (written just before Wildes 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. Our modern society seems so very different, but we are still there, in the play: Lady Bracknells alternative facts (quoted below), Miss Prisms 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. I have read and seen it (including an operatic adaptation) many times, and acted in it once (but not as Cecily). 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyuoU... (view spoiler) Food Quotes I hate people who are not serious about meals. Algernon The 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. Picture: English muffin, toasted, and buttered Algernon. Gwendolen to Cecily Education and Erudition Quotes * I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Lady Bracknell * Literary criticism is not your forte, my dear fellow. Algernon * Dr. Chasuble is a most learned man. Gwendolen Personal note: I was only a little younger than Wilde's Cecily when I first saw the play. Lady Bracknell * Thirty-five is a very attractive age. Lady Bracknell * My duty as a gentleman has never interfered with my pleasures in the smallest degree. Algernon (of Jack) Bunbury Quotes Lady Bracknell. Marriage Quotes * You dont seem to realise, that in married life three is company and two is none. Algernon * Lanes views on marriage seem somewhat lax. Algernon * I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing. Lady Bracknell * A moment, Mr. Worthing. Miss Cardew seems to me a most attractive young lady, now that I look at her. Lady Bracknell * I do not approve of mercenary marriages. Lady Bracknell And THAT is why she is so picky about who might marry Gwendolen. Lady Bracknell * I am not in favour of long engagements. Lady Bracknell * The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. Algernon Cecily. Lady Bracknell Chasuble. Algernon (of Jack) * I have never met any really wicked person before. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell.
I read The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde as part of classics bingo to satisfy my satire square. 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. Cecily falls for Algernon as Ernest because of his name and earnest personality and the lies and charades continue to a third act. Oscar Wilde's plays have stood the test of time as satirical comedies. At this point, I understood the comedy but still felt that the joking carried on a bit far, proving that I am more a fan of dramatic plays.
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? 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. There are not many like him, around anymore, but the sick man inevitably recovers, which greatly irritates his Aunt Augusta, wishing that Bunbury, makes up his mind, is he staying or going? 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. 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.
It seems there are lots of movies based on the theme of this play.
Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest.