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The Importance of Being Earnest

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The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1854 to his parents William and Lady Francesca Wilde. In 1871 Wilde entered Trinity College in Dublin where he excelled at his studies. Oscar Wilde wrote several books and plays. Here are some of his works include: The Picture of Dorian Gray , Lady Windermere's Fan , An Ideal Husband, and his last but what some consider his greatest play The Importance of Being Earnest. (Wayne, David 2002). The Importance of Being Earnest is a witty comedic smear of the rigidity and greediness of the Victorian era. To begin we will look at some of the more important characters of the play to better get a feel for what will be happening in the play itself. We will start with Jack Worthing the play's protagonist. Is a responsible young man who leads a double life? At his country estate at Hertfordshire, Jack is known as Jack. In London he is known as Ernest. As a baby, Jack was found in a handbag in the cloakroom of Victoria Station by an old man who adopted him and made Jack guardian to his granddaughter. Jack is in love with his friend's cousin Gwendolyn Fairfax. (sparknotes.com/lit/earnest/characters.html). Next is Algernon Moncrieff who is Jacks friend who like jack has invented an imaginary friend who appears to be very sick. ...read more.


Where have you been since last Thursday?"(Hall. To Read Literature. p.890). He asks Jack several more questions about Jack's whereabouts getting Jack's customary reply: "In the country" (Hall. To Read Literature. p.890). But Algernon knows Jack is lying through the evidence of Jack's cigarette case which Jack had left at his previous engagement with Algernon. With this knowledge Algernon lets Jack slip deeper and deeper into his lies. We know about Algernon's "Bunbury" form our reading. Algernon's bedridden friend Bunbury merely gets Algernon out of social inconveniences. Jack's alter ego Ernest is a bit darker in the fact that Jack must deceive the closest people around him. (www.gradesaver.com/classicnotes/titles/earnest/section3.html). Now is the scene when Jack/Ernest professes to his love Gwendolen. This scene showcases the gender roles being reversed. In fact in Victorian society the female is supposed to be weak and submissive to the superior male who should be aggressive and authoritative. Jack falters when the big moment of proposing to his love Gwendolen. Jack line is after some conversation with Gwendolen: "Well...may I propose to you now?"(Hall. To Read Literature. p.890). Now is when afore mentioned gender role reversal occurs when Gwendolen takes control of the entire situation when she says: "I think it would be an admirable opportunity. And to spare you of any possible disappointment, Mr. Worthing, I think it only fair to tell you quite frankly beforehand that I am fully determined to accept you."(Hall. ...read more.


(http://www.gradesaver.com/classicnotes/titles/earnest/section4.html) In the second part of Act II the are two major conflicts that of the two friends Jack and Algernon and the two strangers Gwendolen and Ceciley. The conflict that ensues between Jack and Algernon occurs when Algernon tells Jack that he thinks Ceciley is a "darling". Jack being Ceciley's guardian is very offended by one Algernon being disguised as Earnest and for speaking of Ceciley as a "darling". Algernon has taken full advantage of Jack's ruinous position. Jack is very angry at Algernon and sends him away on the next train. Next is Ceciley's immature infatuation with Earnest in her diary. This fictional relationship has gone to the point where she and Earnest are engaged to be married. She is very like Gwendolen on the fact that she has taken complete control of her romantic life. The other similarity is that Ceciley is also obsessed with the name earnest. In the final Act of the play we see some more of the social minded Lady Bracknell in her interview of Cecily and asking her "if she is any way connected with any of the larger railway stations in England". In the end Jack had become his fictional brother Earnest. Through out his years of deceiving his friends Jack had become more Earnest than Jack. In conclusion I think this "comedy of manners" is an excellent and witty mockery of the social and moral doldrums that was Victorian life. I would highly recommend this any one looking for a comedy to perform. ...read more.

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