The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (18

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The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

The Importance of

Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde (1854
- 1900)

Type of Work:

Comic, farcical play


London, and a country house in Hertfordshire,

England; the 1890s

Principal Characters

Jack Worthing, gentleman of the Manor

House; also known as "Ernest"

Celcily Cardew, Worthing's pretty young

Miss Prism, Cecily's governess

Algernon Moncrieff, Worthing's friend

Lady Augusta Braknell, Algernon's aunt

Gwendolen Fairfax, Lady Bracknell's daughter

The Reverend Canon Chasublc, Rector of


Story Overveiw

While Algernon Moncrieff and his manservant
prepared for a visit froi-n his aunt, the formidable Lady Bracknell, their
conversation turned to the question of marriage. Observing the servant's
somewhat lax views on the subject, Algernon declared, "Really, if the lower
orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them?"

This chat was interrupted by the unexpected
arrival of Algernon's friend, Ernest Worthing Worthing was pleased to hear
that Lady Bracknell - and her beautiful daughter Gwendoleii - would be
appearing for tea. But Algernon warned, "I am afraid Aunt Augusta won't
quite approve of your bein here." Mildly insulted, Ernest demanded to know
why. "My dear fellow," Algernon answered, "the way you flirt with Gwendolen
is perfectly disgraceful. It is almost as bad as the way Gwendolen flirts
with you." At this point Worthing announced that he intended to propose
marriage to Gweiidolen, but was taken aback by Algernon's response: "I
doii't give my consent." Worthing, would first have to explain a certain

"Cecily" in his life. As evidence of this relationship, he produced a cigarette
case left behind by Worthing on an earlier visit - devotedly inscribed
from "Cecily" to her loving "Uncle Jack."

"Well," admitted Worthing, "my name is

Ernest in town and Jack in the country." It happened, he said, that Cecily
was his ward, who lived in his country home under the watchful eyes of
a sterii governess, Miss Prism. But to escape the stuffy constraints of
country living, Jack had invented an alter ego: " . . . In order to get
up to town I have always pretended to have a younger brother of the name
of Ernest, who lives in Albany, and gets into the most dreadful scrapes."

Thus, Jack was often "called away" to the city to "rescue" irrepressible


Smiling, Algernon now confessed that he
too was a "Bunburyist," a friend of the equally fict...

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