Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest

3042 words - 12 pages

Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde is a legendary author who has composed many great plays including The Green Carnation and A Woman of No Importance, however, The Importance of Being Earnest was undoubtedly the most famous of his works. First published in 1930, yet acknowledged since the late 1800s, The Importance of Being Earnest helped to revive the theater tradition of Congreve and Sheridan. The story is a comedic view of romance and the emphasis we place on seemingly trivial articles, such as a name. In this story, contrary to the typical saying, a rose by any other name would not smell as sweet.

Our first scene begins with a confrontation, and the whole story is a man versus confusing women (better known as society) conflict from there on out. Jack Worthing drops by the home of Algernon Moncreiff on a friendly call after being in the country all weekend. Algy is expecting company, his Aunt Augusta Bracknell and cousin Gwendolyn Fairfax. After announcing this to Jack, Jack states his intentions of proposal to Gwendolyn. The confrontation comes about when Algy produces a cigarette case belonging to his comrade, and is inscribed ‘From little Cecily, with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack.’ This invokes confusion because Algy has always known Jack to be a Mr. Ernest Worthing. At this, Jack explains that he is leading a double life as Jack Worthing in the country and Ernest Worthing in the city. In the country, Ernest Worthing is his fictional younger brother who is always getting into trouble, thus requiring him to make frequent trips to the city. This way, Ernest Worthing is also seen in town to further promote his existence and an excuse for departure.

Jack proposes to Gwendolyn, who also knows him as Ernest, yet Lady Bracknell vocalizes a slight disconsent. For one thing, “Ernest” is an orphan who was found in a handbag at the cloakroom of a train station, while Gwendolyn’s parents have strong family values. However, Jack and Gwendolyn decide to go on with the wedding. Jack must depart for the country, so he politely excuses his egression. Once in the country, Jack is surprised by the arrival of Algernon, acting as Ernest Worthing. Sensing trouble, Jack does his best to induce the exit of his “younger brother” but it is to no avail. Cecily, always wanting to marry a man by the name of Ernest, falls in love with Algernon immediately, and he proposes to her. To further complicate things, Gwendolyn arrives at the country home also, but before this is brought to the attention of Jack, she and Cecily have a brief meeting in the garden, which turns out to be the story’s climax. During this encounter, both happen to mention that they are engaged to be married to Ernest Worthing. We must recall that to Gwendolyn, Ernest is actually Jack and to Cecily, Ernest is Algy. The girls are only bewildered and upset, so they decide to affront their fiancés.

Upon this confrontation, it is revealed that neither Jack...

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