The importance of being Ernest; Oscar Wilde







  • PLOT






  • The Importance of Being Earnest” is one of the most known plays of Oscar Wilde, is the most brilliant of all his comedies, through the absurd of the action and very sharp dialogues, the virtuosity and the exaggerated sentimentalist are exposed to the liberation of laugh.

  • Wilde plays with the sense of the sentence, since - The importance of being earnest - can have two meanings, in one hand, it can mean to have a fixed name, in this case, the name of Ernest; in the other hand it can mean to be self-sufficient, talking about money; the reader can choose between these two options because they are different in writing but equal in pronunciation.


  • (Dublin 1854- Paris 1900) The true name of Oscar Wilde was Oscar Fingall O´Flahertie Wills Wilde, he was the son of the surgeon William Wilde and the writer Jane Francesca Elgee, he went to the Royal School and to the Trinity College of Dublin.

  • Thanks to his talent and personal delight he soon did himself a place on the literary world of London as an essayist and poet.

  • His first book “Poems” was published in 1881, and in 1882 he went to lecture in America. After his marriage with Constance Lloyd in 1884, he published several book of stories for children. Then followed: “The picture of Dorian Gray” (1891), “The happy prince and other plays”, “The duchess of Padua”, “Lady Windermere's Fan”, “A woman of no importance”, “An ideal husband” and “The Importance of Being Earnest”, these last four were produced in theatre . He wrote too the drama “Salomé” which was published in France because in England was forbidden by the decision of the lord Chambelan, who denied the authorisation to play a drama based on Bible's characters.

  • In 1895 Oscar Wilde was accused of be homosexual by the Marquis of Queensberry and was himself sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour at the Reading Gaol, here he wrote an elegy “De Profundis” (which appeared on a posthumos way in 1905). He was released from prison in 1897 and went to Paris, where he was hidden under the pseudonym of Sebastian Helmoth, was here where he wrote his famous work “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” as a result of his experience in prison.

  • He lived in Paris until his death in 1900.

  • PLOT

  • The story turns around two friend, Algernon Moncrief and Jack Worthing, they have created two imaginary people, one in each case, Mr. Bunbury (Algernon's friend) and Ernest Worthing (Jack's brother) in order to can escape from the routine always they want, these identities have a personality completely different to their owners so they can do it everything that they want.

  • Jack Worthing is in love with Gwendolen Fairfax, but she knows him as Ernest Worthing, what is a problem, moreover, his mother, Lady Bracknell, dislikes Jack because he hasn't a very good social position. In the other hand Algernon goes to Jack's country house and introduce himself as Ernest Worthing, and he falls in love with Cecily Cardew, when the two girls meet themselves, start lots of scrapes and misunderstandings which finish finding out the true identity of the two men, and appear other surprises like the revelation of the true parents of Jack, his true name and the link of blood that unites him with Algernon.



  • More known as Jack Worthing, he was abandoned when he was a baby, he was given shelter by Mr. Cardew, who looked after him till his death afterthat Jack became the guardian of Mr. Cardew's daughter, Cecily. They live in the same house in the country, but Jack lives too in the town as Ernest Worthing, a false brother with very bad reputation that Jack has invented in order to can do everything he wants without problems. Jack is in love with Gwendolen Fairfax but she knows him as Ernest Worthing.


  • He is a person who likes to argue for everything, is extremely educated and a few strict, he lives in the town but when he wants to go out to enjoy himself he has a technique called Bunburyist, it consists of make this family believe that he has a friend called Mr. Bunbury who has very bad health and due to that Algernon has to visit him many times. In one of his leavings Algernon falls in love with Cecily when he was doing like he was Ernest Worthing.


  • She is the only daughter of Lady Bracknell, she is nice, clever and a few romantic, but she lives with the obsession of getting married to somebody called Ernest.


  • She is the mother of Gwendolen and the aunt of Algernon. She is a very hard woman, and worried in excess for what the society thinks of her and her family. She wants, above all, to find an ideal husband (good family and position) to Gwen and is very critical to all her candidates.


  • She is the ward of Jack Worthing, she lives in a country house with her governess Ms. Prism, Cecily is a nice, young lady, very impatient, romantic and a few crazy, as the same as Gwendolen she wants to get married to somebody called Ernest.


  • She is the governess of Cecily, is a woman well educated and very cultured, she lives dedicated to educate Cecily, although inside herself she hide a secret, 20 years ago she lost a baby and this make her unhappy, moreover, she loves the Rev. Canon Chausuble, but she knows that love is impossible.


  • He is the reverend of the village, is a man cultured and very nice, he goes frequently to visit Cecily in order to can talk with Ms. Prism whom her he is in love on a unconscious way.

  • LANE

  • He is the manservant of Algernon Moncrief. He is a nice, loyal man, an above all, discreet, because he knows all the secrets of his Mister.


  • He is a butler, but he works as a manservant of Jack Worthing in his country house.


  • The opposition that Oscar Wilde makes between the hard work and the idleness seems to be oriented to very old fashioned ideas about the happiness. To Wilde the artist becomes a symbol of a society free of the duty of a necessary work. His rhetoric goes towards the communication, there isn't never a division between art and social reality, Wilde sees himself as an artist, constituting an essential aspect that he never draws, not even in his theoretic writings, a strong line divisors between critic knowledge and poetical creation.

  • This tendency (the aestheticism ) is found in Oscar Wilde in the way that the general idea of a Dandy only included the provocative characteristics of the eccentric artist. The figure of the Dandy personalised the necessity of unmask the triviality of the burgess existence, as well as provoke it by a irritant behaviour ; the Dandy was distinguished for his negative to concern with the daily life matters, and for his decision of concentrating his life, in a precise way, on the instant and the caprices most extravagant.


  • I like this story, in general, I've found it very funny, full of scrapes and misunderstandings.

  • To start, and to my understanding, i think the false identities that the characters of Algernon and Jack have (Mr. Bunbury and Ernest) reflect a desire of not to have any sort of responsibility, they want to do anything without afraid of reprisals.

  • For example, i think that the character of Algernon Moncrief seems to be the typical hypocrite guy that shows a faces but behind of it he thinks a thing completely different, but near the end of the story, when he falls in love with Cecily he seems like whether he takes the right road.

  • About the character of Jack Worthing i believe that he shames himself of his past and lets off steam with the figure of Ernest and accuses him of a lots of vicious that Jack doesn't dare to confess. Changing of content, the story said to me that although Jack is very pleased with his protector Mr.Cardew he is still angry with his parents because they abandoned him when he was a baby, but, after all he finish forgives them. I believe too that Jack wants to marry Gwendolen in order that she mean to him the possibility of making up a family, but he is very annoyed with Lady Bracknell since she doesn't let Gwendolen gets married with Jack because he hasn't the enough good position in society.

  • I believe in fact, that Oscar Wilde wanted, with the personality of Lady Bracknell, to reflect the prejudgements of the middle of XIX century society (high class) about the people of an inferior class. This character seems to be an hypocrite too, because when she believed Jack was poor, she didn't want him to get married Gwendolen, but when she discovers that Jack stems from a good family, her own family, se doesn't doubt in give her consent to that wedding, as the same to the marriage between Algernon and Cecily, because she knows that her has a good social position.

  • In my opinion, the female characters (Gwendolen and Cecily) are very frivolous, they are obsessed to marry to somebody called Ernest, which is a nonsense, it is like nowadays was a necessary thing to marry a man that he has a BMW or a two plants flat, it demonstrate the stupidity of the girls, i find some similar at the present day, because there are some girls that put their economical situation before their feelings, which i think is a big nonsense. To sum up i believe that these characters show the necessity to be approve by the society and they suppose that marry a man called Ernest they will get it, it is possible too that these girls are used to have everything they wanted and this is only a caprice more.

  • I find, to my way, the character of Mr. Prism very few relevant, she is only the governess of Cecily, although i think this figure is necessary to be accused of the lost of the baby; in the same way, the character of the Rev. Canon Chausuble is useless in the story, he can be substituted for another character and the plot will goes on equal.

  • As for the servants, i think they are necessary to situate the story into a society worried in excess for the appearance, although they are agreeable and put a note of colour in the theme.

  • To summarise, i like very much this story full of scrapes, secrets and love in equal dosage, it is amusing and pleasant to read, although i believe the end of this one can be predicted, (at least for me) it is known that something is going to happen, something to help Lady Bracknell gives her consent to the wedding.

  • I find it interesting, amusing, comical, with a coherent theme, without shocks and with a satisfactory result to myself.


    • WILDE, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest and other plays. Penguin Plays 1986.

    • Enciclopedia interactiva Planeta Agostini.

    • AKAL. Historia de la Literatura. Volumen quinto, “La edad Burguesa” (1830-1914)

Enviado por:Teresa López
Idioma: inglés
País: España

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