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The Importance of Being Earnest
Transcript of The Importance of Being Earnest
Ernest and John (aka Jack)
"And before I allow you to marry her, you have to clear up the whole question of Cecily" (Act One)
"Well, my name is Ernest in town, and Jack in the country. And the cigarette case was given to me in the country." (Act One)
Algernon and Bunbury
"I have invented an invalid called Bunbury, in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose." (Act One)
The double life portrayed in this play essentially allows both Algernon and Jack to escape from social and moral duties. (During the Victorian Era, social class was considered important.)
The name Ernest itself, symbolizes a satirical viewpoint.
"On the contrary, Aunt Augusta, I've now realized for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest." (Act Three)
The title of the play is, "The Importance of Being Earnest," However, throughout the play, all characters are deceitful. Only have they been found out, do they admit to their wrong doings.
In the play, the importance of "marriage" symbolized the idea of "social class."
For example, Lady Bracknell had initially refuse the idea of Algernon and Cecily getting married due to the lack of knowledge of who Cecily really was
Lady Bracknell also initially refused the idea of Jack and Gwendolen getting married, as, she was not quite sure who Jack really was.
"I am engaged to be married to Gwendolen, Lady Bracknell!" (Act Three)
"You are nothing of the kind, sir..." (Act Three)
Written in 1894, by Oscar Wilde
First premiered in St. James Theatre (London, UK) in 1895
The play takes place in late Victorian Era
Location, is in an estate in Hertforshire.
The play, is a comedy.
Two men pretend to be someone they are not to impress the women they love.
Society and Status (Name and Family Background)
The deceit and consequences of hiding behind the name of Ernest.
Resolution of the Conflict:
Adopted by Cardew
No information about his parents
A serious man. Except when he lied about being "Mr. Ernest"
In love with Gwendolen
An intelligent man, and clever
He treats life like a game
Is in love with Cecily
Lady Bracknell’s Daughter
An intellectual, educated, fashionable and sensitive girl .
Born and raised up in the city.
She is in love with “Mr. Ernest Worthing” , (aka Jack)
P/S : she loves him because of his christening name “Ernest”.
Thomas Cardew’s daughter, Jack’s step sister.
A strong will, simple but still graceful girl. She is also well educated by lady Prism.
Born and raised up in the country side.
Engaged with “Mr. Ernest Worthing," but after meeting him in real life (Algernon), she fell in love with Ernest.
P/S: loves him for his christening name “Ernest”.
Algernon’s Aunt, and Gwendolen’s mother
A high social class woman who lives in the city
Typical traditional British woman. She judges everyone in the smallest detail. Her word is, law.
Love “fortunes”, or known as money.
Cecily’s Governess. She is also her educator.
A kind-hearted lady.
Unmarried, but deeply in love with Dr. Chasuble.
Holds the key to Jack’s important past.
A priest in Jack’s county.
He’s the one who will help Jack and Algernon be christened under the name of Ernest.
He is in love with miss Prism.
"Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work."
Importance of being Married:
There is an on going conversations debating marriage, and all characters have there own opinion of marriage.
Opening scene, Algernon and his butler Lane discusses marriage. Lane views marriage as a “pleasant state," and Algernon believes Lanes views are “lax."
Algernon questions marriage, is it “demoralizing?" Due to the fact that married house holds do not carry first rate champagne.
Algernon believes the “lower orders” are supposed to set the example of marriage for the higher class.
Algernon asks Jack what brings him to town “business or pleasure” Jack states, pleasure.
Jack was in town to propose to Gwendolen. Algernon would say that’s business.
Its not until Algernon falls in love with Cecily does his views on marriage change. (Romantic)
Marriage is supposed to be about trust. Even though Jack and Algernon lied about their names, their intentions were in the right place.
Having the name Ernest, you would expect to be more honest.
Jack and Algernon morals went out the window when they decided to lie about their names.
Symbolize the social class between each family lived in the Victorian era.
Lady Bracknell interviewed Jack about his family, his wealthness, and origins.
Marriage is a convention of society that the wealthy are bound to follow.
Empty promise and deceit of Victorian Era:
Both Jack and Algernon have deceived other people by creating another image for themselves.
This proves that the Victorian Era did not value honesty, or responsibility. (Only for the upper class of the Victorian Era.)
Even though Gwendolen knew that Jack did not come from the same class as she was, she had still loved Jack and wanted to marry him.
“In matter of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing,” said Gwendolen.
She did not care if he was not an "earnest" person. She only cared about his name.
Within the play, lots of scenes involves each character eating food. Food, essentially symbolizes the scenes of "quarrels."
"Cake or bread and butter?" (Act 2)
"Bread and butter, please. Cake is rarely seen at the best houses nowadays" (Act 2)
He is an alumnus of the University of Oxford.
His novel The Picture of Dorian Gray was modified to be better suited for the stage.
He was jailed for displaying acts of homosexuality and gross indecency.
He was born on October 16, 1854 at Dublin, Ireland.
He died on November 30, 1900 at Paris, France.
He was married to Constance Lloyd.
He had two sons with Constance Lloyd.
He had lived in Dublin, Ireland; Chelsea, London; and Paris, France.
His other occupations were reviewing art, writing poetry and lecturing in the UK, the United States and Canada.
Oscar Wilde's Ticks:
Suggested Reasons for,
The Importance of being Earnest:
To assert the importance of being yourself
To show what some people will do for love
To illustrate the importance of having family and friends
To emphasize that in the end, everything will sort itself out
To make a funny play
To stress the importance of having character
To criticize the demeanor of the Victorian Era
Hawkins, Tim. BAM: The Importance of Being Earnest (4/18-5/14).
Hawkins, Tim. The Importance of Being Earnest.
Marsh, Rose Amy, Coleman, Ben, Geer, David, Brea, Charlyn, and Mullen, Tyler. Oscar Wilde.
Weiss, B. Marc. Oscar Wilde.