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The Importance of Being Earnest

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Oscar Wilde's madcap farce about mistaken identities, secret engagements, and lovers entanglements still delights readers more than a century after its 1895 publication and premiere performance. The rapid-fire wit and eccentric characters of The Importance of Being Earnest have made it a mainstay of the high school curriculum for decades.

Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax are both in love with the same mythical suitor. Jack Worthing has wooed Gwendolen as Ernest while Algernon has also posed as Ernest to win the heart of Jack's ward, Cecily. When all four arrive at Jack's country home on the same weekend the "rivals" to fight for Ernest's undivided attention and the "Ernests" to claim their beloveds pandemonium breaks loose. Only a senile nursemaid and an old, discarded hand-bag can save the day!

This Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Edition includes a glossary and reader's notes to help the modern reader appreciate Wilde's wry wit and elaborate plot twists.

76 pages, Paperback

First published February 14, 1895

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About the author

Oscar Wilde

6,705 books33k followers
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet, and author of numerous short stories, and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest.

As the result of a widely covered series of trials, Wilde suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years hard labour after being convicted of "gross indecency" with other men. After Wilde was released from prison he set sail for Dieppe by the night ferry. He never returned to Ireland or Britain, and died in poverty.

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Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
April 11, 2020
“We live in an age of ideals”

Wilde is a genius. This play is genius. What a penetrating critique of high Victorian society this becomes; but rather than being a dull argument or essay, it takes on the body of a hilarious play. This is just absurd, outrageous and straight to the point. This picture says it all to me:


Jack undergoes a great deal of social mobility prior to the events of the play; however, Bracknell, who represents the rigidness of British aristocracy, is very alarmed that such a man could marry her daughter. He is not worthy enough. When Jack explains the details of the train line he was left at, she ironically exclaims: “The line is immaterial.” And that such a marriage would remind her of: “the worst excesses of the French revolution.” The dialogue is utterly genius. The best thing about it is that the characters are completely unaware of their own absurd hypocrisy. The train line doesn’t matter, but his bloodline does.

Bracknell loves money. It’s one of the only reasons she actually listens to Jack’s request to marry her daughter. Later, she becomes suddenly interested in Cecily after learning of her inheritance. It means there could be more money for the rich. It is one of the key things on her ideal husband list for Gwendolyn. It’s also key element of the play that demonstrates the absurdity of her class, but it is second only to the importance of appearance. Money is great, but if you look like a fool in society then you’re ruined.

Through this Wilde is demonstrating the ridiculous nature of Victorian morality, and how concerned it is with a perfect societal image. Bracknell’s daughter could not be seen forming an alliance with a handbag. Marriage is simply a business transaction, a way to improve one’s wealth and station. There is nothing for the Bracknell’s in such an alliance; love simply does not enter the question. The possible increase in wealth is overshadowed by tarnishing the family name. This is an opinion earlier mentioned by Algernon. Whilst social mobility is possible in Wilde’s play, it is resented by those that are the established elite regardless of their own meagre origins. Hypocrisy reigns supreme.

‘Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can’t get into it do that.’


Algernon and Jon both become gluttonous towards food. This demonstrates the greed that permeates the morale fabric of Victorian society, as neither of these men actually actively work and they just spend their time self-indulging through their respective false identities. They simply consume without producing in their self-aggrandised manners. The rich have a sense of false entitlement that Wilde questions heroically; he demonstrates that the supposed morale fabric that governs higher society is completely false: it is a trick, a mere appearance whilst the members live secret lives.

“My duty as a gentleman has never interfered with my pleasures in the smallest degree”


And here comes the crux of the play. The persona of Earnest becomes a means of escape for Jack, and later Algernon; it becomes a means for letting loose and maintaining his position within society. He can bare all the graces of a Victorian gentleman, the perfects ideal, but he can also have fun. The living of double lives suggests the strictness of society, and the lengths the members could take to momentarily escape its rigid bounds. This also suggests the ease to which they can shift between the public and private sectors of their personalities. It’s not hard to pretend. It’s not hard to go “bumbrying.”

There’s some extensive doubling going on. At times it reminded me of Shakespeare’s wonderful Twelfth Night, and at other points there were undertones of Wilde’s masterpiece The Picture of Dorian Grey. The Victorians judged people on their appearance and their supposed morale character. So what do you do if you have a slightly deviant nature? You can’t let yourself be ruined within society. That’s paramount to death. So a fictional alter ego is the perfect excuse to go and indulge. But lies always catch up with people; it was obvious that this would end in an explosion of realisations.

Thus everything becomes perfectly inverted. Morality and the constraints it imposes on society is a favourite topic of conversation. The characters have some rather hilarious notions as to what is right and what is wrong. Reading a cigarette case is an ungentlemanly act; culture is dependent on what one shouldn’t read and Algernon thinks the servant class has a responsibility to set a moral standard for the upper classes. Bracknell takes on the role of clan patriarch, and the men have typical female traits whilst the women become active in seeking their ideal husband. At times they say things that make absolutely no sense, but such is the nature of ideals.

It’s all incredibly comic. The point is that people can become so enamoured, so quickly, with an ideal that doesn’t exist. They want perfection not a reflection of the real person. It’s Wilde’s perfect demonstration of how stupid Victorian society was. It’s a fun play, but there are serious undertones. It’s an effective critique of society, very much set down in the way he argued good criticism should be in his essay The Critic as Artist. Wilde is an artist, and this is a fine critique. It’s immensely clever and hilarious in the process.

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Profile Image for Federico DN.
357 reviews624 followers
April 3, 2023
The Importance of Being Honest.

Jack Worthing lives a double life, being “Jack” in the countryside, and "Earnest" in the city. When his best friend Algernon Moncrief decides to impersonate "Earnest" for his own benefit, things get complicated. And when they each fall in love with Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew, respectively, things quickly spiral out of control. Not even together they can make one single "Earnest".

Being Earnest Honest I must admit that, though entertaining, I never got to really enjoy it. Maybe because I’m not used to read theater plays, or because I never had that much affinity for the gossiping of the Victorian high society, or maybe it’s simply just not my type of humor. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that this play is brilliantly written, it has excellent scenes and memorable quotes that reveal a genius and witty talent like few times rarely seen. Also must say there were more than one occasion where the situations described turned impossibly hilarious. This could greatly appeal to lovers of the theatrical genre, among the which, sadly, I cannot include myself, at least in this case.

A masterpiece by the immortal Oscar Wilde that through the course of time had innumerable theatrical and cinematic adaptations. A classic widely considered one of the best plays ever written, greatly suitable for those willing and able to enjoy it.

It’s public domain, you can find it HERE.

*** The movie (2002) is a good adaptation I guess. Several direct quotes, a few deviations but faithful enough to the plot. A cast including major stars like Firth, Everett, Dench and Witherspoon. Decent acting, atmosphere and pacing. Yet for all its pros it didn’t do it for me; I didn’t love the book and I didn’t love the movie, no big surprise. If you enjoyed the play the movie should be good I think.

Still remaining, the movie (1952); someday, maybe.

[1895] [76p] [Theater] [2.5] [Conditional Recommendable]

La Importancia de Llamarse Honesto.

Jack Worthing vive una doble vida, siendo “Jack” en el campo, y "Ernesto" en la ciudad. Cuando su mejor amigo Algernon Moncrief decide personificar a "Ernesto" para su propio beneficio, las cosas se complican. Y cuando se enamoran de Gwendolen Fairfax y Cecily Cardew, respectivamente, las cosas se salen rápidamente de control. Ni siquiera juntos hacen un solo "Ernesto".

Siendo Ernesto Honesto debo admitir que, aunque entretenida, nunca llegué realmente a disfrutarla. Tal vez porque no estoy acostumbrado a leer obras teatrales, o porque nunca tuve demasiada afinidad por el chismorreo de la alta sociedad victoriana, o tal vez simplemente no es mi tipo de humor. Sin embargo, resulta importante destacar que esta obra está brillantemente escrita, tiene excelentes escenas y memorables frases que revelan una genialidad y talentoso ingenio pocas veces visto. También debo decir que en más de una ocasión las situaciones descritas se vuelven imposiblemente hilarantes. Esto podría atraer enormemente a aquellos amantes del género teatral, entre los que, lamentablemente, no me puedo incluir, al menos en este caso.

Una obra maestra del inmortal Oscar Wilde que ha tenido a lo largo del tiempo innumerables adaptaciones teatrales y cinematográficas. Un clásico ampliamente considerado como una de las mejores obras jamás escritas, genialmente adecuado para aquellos que quieren y pueden disfrutarlo.

Es dominio público, lo pueden encontrar ACA.

*** La película (2002) es una buena adaptación supongo. Varias citas directas, algunas desviaciones pero suficientemente fiel a la trama. Un elenco incluyendo grandes estrellas como Firth, Everett, Dench y Witherspoon. Decente actuación, atmósfera y ritmo. Pero a pesar de todos sus pros esto no lo hizo para mí; no amé el libro y tampoco amé la película, no hay mucha sorpresa. Si disfrutaste la obra la película debería ser buena creo.

Queda pendiente la película (1952); algún día, tal vez.

[1895] [76p] [Teatro] [2.5] [Recomendable Condicional]
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,294 reviews21.7k followers
April 12, 2009
When I was quite young – I guess, if you were of a mind to, you might say it was a generation ago – I was listening to a radio program and for some reason they decided to do the handbag scene from The Importance of Being Earnest. I’d heard of the play before, obviously, but only the name. I had thought it would be some terribly dreary thing, having no idea just how funny a man Wilde was. The guy on the radio gave it quite a build up – saying something to the effect that this scene is not just one of the funniest in what is a very funny play, but perhaps one of the funniest scenes in the whole of English drama. I waited fully expecting to be disappointed.

Naturally, I howled with laughter. It is very hard to explain just how funny it is hearing a woman (one of those English upper class aunts that Wodehouse also made a living out of depicting) can be saying the words, “A handbag?” Now, who would ever have thought that perhaps the funniest line in the whole of English drama could possibly be, “A handbag?” I say this without the least fear of spoiling the joke for you, by the way, if you’ve never read or seen the play. A mistake that must be remedied immediately if you never have seen it, by the way.

It would be all too easy to dismiss this play as a light romantic comedy. Although it is about a series of near thwarted romances – the stuff of a million ‘chick-flicks’ and romantic comedies going back as far as the eye can see in drama – this is also something much, much more. It is also a delightfully amusing commentary on human sexual relations, the English class system and (much more importantly) a perfect mirror on the amusing excesses of human selfishness. In fact, some of the best lines in the play, and the funniest lines in the play, highlight our near infinite capacity to love ourselves. To quote only a few and without hardly looking:

“If you are not too long, I will wait for you all my life.”

“Oh! Not at all, Gwendolen. I am very fond of being looked at.”

“If I am occasionally overdressed, I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated.”

“I don’t play accurately – anyone can play accurately – but I play with wonderful expression.”

“You see, it (her diary) is simply a very young girl’s record of her thoughts and impressions, and consequently meant for publication.”

The other terribly interesting thing in this play is the role of family. Not only are the families quite dysfunctional, even when people know who their parents are, but the title character is about as confused about how he fits into the complex world of family relations as it is possible to make someone. The thing that makes the line about the handbag quite so funny is that this handbag is about the closest thing he has to family in the entire world. As Pascal once said, we laugh and cry about the same things.

I’m going to finish with my favourite exchange in the play, other than, obviously, the handbag scene which is incomparable:

“Lady Bracknell: Is this Miss Prism a female of repellent aspect, remotely connected with education?

Chasuble: (Somewhat indignantly) She is the most cultivated of ladies, and the very picture of respectability.

Lady Bracknell: It is obviously the same person.”

Wilde is, it hardly needs to be said, the closest thing to a God we are likely to have visit us on this planet. There are, for example, even now, more than 100 years after his death, entire companies that produce desk calendars that would not be in business if not for the endless supply of quotes he provides for the foot of Monday the Ninth of February and so on.

If humour comes in a spectrum and slapstick is at one end of that spectrum, then this is the other end.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
August 18, 2012
“If you are not too long, I will wait for you all my life.”

Ah, Mr Wilde can always be counted on to make me laugh, to poke fun at the ridiculousness of human behaviour, to tell a story that is both incredibly clever and undeniably silly. The Importance of Being Earnest is a play about mistaken identity, lies, the English class system, and the never-ending vanity and selfishness of high society members. And it's hilarious. It's one of few pre-20th century comedies to have maintained it's laugh factor to this day. And one of the few plays I actually enjoy to read.

“The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever.”

The story is about Ernest. Ernest is a number of people: John Worthing, John Worthing's imaginary brother, and Algernon Montcrieff... in short, Ernest does not exist but is rather the creation of John's and Algernon's overactive and untruthful minds. As the pair create a web of lies in order to impress the women in their lives who absolutely adore the name Ernest, they become more and more tangled in their mess. When the two meet whilst playing their imaginary characters to different people, their lies start to unravel.

Wilde takes us on a mocking journey through the lives of several wealthy 19th-century people. His dialogue is witty and brimming with jokes at the expense of the upper classes, I especially like Lady Bracknell's response to John Worthing being an orphan when she is assessing whether he is good enough for her daughter: “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

And a few more gems:

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

“My dear fellow, the truth isn’t quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice, sweet, refined girl. What extraordinary ideas you have about the way to behave to a woman!”

“To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.”
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,228 reviews1,063 followers
April 18, 2023
Every line in The Importance of Being Earnest is an absolute gem. Remember these?

“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.”

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

“No woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating.”

Just three for a start - I had not realised quite how many of Oscar Wilde's bon mots originated in this particular play, which is subtitled, A Trivial Play for Serious People.

The main characters are two young gentlemen, Algernon Moncrieff and his best friend John Worthing, whom he knows as Ernest. The two corresponding young ladies are Algernon's cousin, Gwendolen Fairfax, and John Worthing's young ward, the heiress Cecily Cardew. The action revolves around these four, with minor deceptions and false names. For instance, Algernon invents "Bunburying", or pretending to have an invalid friend called "Bunbury". He can thus claim to need to visit this friend at any time, and this provides a most convenient way of getting out of any social activities he does not care for. Much of the humour is provided by a formidable dragon of a character called "Lady Bracknell", who is Gwendolen's mother. There is also an inordinately silly back story about a handbag left at Victoria station.

The standing joke throughout is that the main characters never reveal their true feelings, always maintaining a witty persona so as to escape their social obligations. The norms of conventional Victorian Society are continually turned on their head. The play repeatedly mocks Victorian traditions and social customs, marriage and the pursuit of love. "Earnestness" was highly regarded as a worthwhile character trait in Victorian society. It had originated in religious attempts to reform the lower classes, but quickly spread as a desirable attribute to the upper ones. So the very title, The Importance of Being Earnest mocks this convention. The extremely serious social institution of marriage is repeatedly treated as a trivial event, and witty satirical comments abound. Here are three more:

“In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.”

“I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.”

“Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can’t get into it do that.”

The Importance of Being Earnest is a farce of the highest extreme, a frothy concoction and an absolute delight even now, although it was first performed in 1895. It marks the climax of Oscar Wilde's career - yet it also indirectly led to his downfall. The story of his imprisonment for what was then a crime, is famously poignant, and modern readers must only ponder what other potential future classics have been lost with the virtual destruction of this talented writer.

In brief, the Marquess of Queensbury, who was the father of Wilde's homosexual partner, had planned to present him with a bouquet of rotten vegetables and disrupt the play. In the event Wilde was tipped off, so this never happened. However, the story got out, there was a famous trial leading to Wilde's imprisonment for "gross indecency" and the rest, as they say, is history; just another case which seems appalling to modern eyes. What seems incredible to modern readers, is that because of this notoriety, The Importance of Being Earnest had to be closed after only 86 performances, and that afterwards Oscar Wilde wrote no more comedy - and no more drama.

Although it was highly popular with audiences of the time, who appreciated its clever humour, many critics disapproved of it precisely because it was so light. It does not attempt to tackle serious social and political issues. One critic complained that it "is nothing but an absolutely wilful expression of an irrepressibly witty personality." Since this was not its purpose, in retrospect it does seem an extraordinary criticism.

So why only 4 stars? It is after all, a perfect masterpiece of its type. But a play needs to be performed. And this one, rib-tickling as it is to read on the page, lacks a lot when not viewed as a performance. One excellent film of it dates from 1952 by Anthony Asquith, who adapted the screenplay and directed it. Michael Denison played Algernon, Michael Redgrave played Jack, Dorothy Tutin played Cecily, Joan Greenwood played Gwendolen, and Margaret Rutherford played Miss Prism. All were very memorable and perfect in their parts. But Dame Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell was outstanding and her interpretation will live in the public's memory for a long time. There have been many adaptations in recent years, but that one is exceptional. View that, or even better go to a good live performance, and the play will easily merit 5 stars.

After much deliberation, I've decided to add that well- deserved final star. Otherwise all plays reviewed here would be at a disadvantage, since we can only review the written word on Goodreads. But please go to see this play live, if you can.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
January 27, 2022
The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde.

The play's major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways. Some contemporary reviews praised the play's humor and the culmination of Wilde's artistic career, while others were cautious about its lack of social messages. Its high farce and witty dialogue have helped make The Importance of Being Earnest Wilde's most enduringly popular play.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز چهارم ماه مارس سال2013میلادی

عنوان: اهمیت ارنست بودن؛ نویسنده: اسکار وایلد؛ بازنویسی به صورت قصه: گیتی صفرزاده؛ مترجم: محمد سعیدی؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، گل آقا، سال1391، در62ص، فروست: نمایشنامه قبل از این؛ شابک9789647042628؛ موضوع نمایشنامه از نویسندگان ایرلند - سده19م

این نمایش کمدی و خنده دار در سبک لودگی، و دربارهٔ آدم‌هایی است، که برای فرار از تعهداتشان، هویت جعلی برمی‌گزینند؛ منتقدان هم‌دوره ی «وایلد»، همگی طنز موجود در نمایشنامه را، ستودند؛ برخی نداشتن پیام‌های اجتماعی در اثر را، از کاستیهای آن دانستند؛ شماری دیگر باورمند بودند «اهمّیّت جدی بودن»، نقطهٔ سرفرازی در کوششهای هُنریِ «اسکار وایلد» به‌ شمار می‌رود؛ گفتگوهای نازک اندیشانه و بذله‌ گویی‌های شادی آور نمایشنامه، موجب شده که «اهمّیّت جدی (ارنست) بودن» دل انگیزترین نمایشنامه ی «اسکار وایلد» باشد؛ «اهمیت ارنست بودن» با برگردان جناب «محمد سعیدی» به همراه دو نمایشنامه ی «سالومه» و «بادبزن خانم ویندرمر»، نخستین بار در سال1336هجری خورشیدی، توسط بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب، و پس از آن نیز بارها چاپ، و نشر شده است

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 17/03/1399 هجری خورشیدی؛ 06/11/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
November 14, 2019
This 1895 play about mistaken and hidden identities is my favorite by Oscar Wilde. One of the wittiest plays ever!

Algernon is visited in his town home by his friend Ernest, who intends to propose to Algernon's cousin Gwendolen. Algernon manages to dig out his friend's secret: his name is actually Jack.


Jack has an 18 year old ward, Cecily, who lives in his country home. So he uses the name Ernest when he is in town so he can live it up a little, and then tells Cecily about his wastrel younger brother Ernest when he stays with her in the country. Algernon is instantly intrigued and wants to meet Cecily; Jack refuses.

Enter Jack's beloved, Gwendolen, with her mother, Lady Bracknell, the epitome of Victorian shallowness, materialism and moral superiority.

"Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon.  Only people who can’t get into it do that."

Gwendolen is delighted to accept Jack's proposal, but her mother refuses to approve the engagement: Jack is a foundling who doesn't know who his parents are.
"To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."
So things are at a standstill ... until Algernon sneaks off to visit Jack's country home and meet Cecily. He introduces himself as Jack's wayward brother Ernest.


Love at first sight, and comedy heaven, ensue. Both Gwendolen and Cecily are bound and determined to marry a man named Ernest ("There is something in that name that seems to inspire absolute confidence"). You can see the clash coming, but it's even better when it happens than you could imagine.

It's a quick read, just under 100 pages on my Kindle. Everybody wants to be earnest (or Ernest) ... but nobody really is ... or are they? It's the most intriguing combination of delightful frothiness and absurdity, but with a strong streak of social satire and criticism of society's shallowness and materialism running through it. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Reading this is great, but seeing it is even better. I haven't seen the 2002 film with Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon and Judi Dench, which sounds fantastic. But I can vouch for the 1952 film, which is an absolute delight, with Michael Redgrave and Dame Edith Evans (in the role of her life as the imposing Lady Bracknell).

Profile Image for Cecily.
1,119 reviews3,977 followers
November 11, 2017
If you try to take this literally, it is ludicrous, so don’t. It is a delicately crafted confection of spun sugar: sweet but sharp, beautiful, brittle, and engineered to amuse. “An iridescent filament of fantasy”, as critic William Archer described the opening performance on Valentine’s Day 1895.

In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.” Gwendolen

This play is a social comedy that celebrates surfaces: the flexible importance of etiquette (as long as it's underpinned by money), and the essential veneer of politeness - especially when insulting someone. It is chock full of often contrary epigrams, even from Algy’s dryly droll manservant, Lane. “The deadly importance of the triviality is everything”, as Sir John Gielgud said of this play, aping Wilde’s style.


Jack and Algernon are wealthy, single, shallow young men in Victorian London. Jack wants to marry Algy’s cousin Gwendolen (daughter of Lady Bracknell), but matters are complicated when Algy finds Jack’s cigarette case, with a puzzling dedication engraved in it, from Cecily. Algy is intrigued, and not at all convinced by Jack’s explanation.

The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” Algernon

The plot is clever and silly, and really just a framework for exploring ideas about society, marriage, education, and food. Food features a great deal, in all three acts, even though it has no real bearing on the plot at all.

This play has given us A Hand-bag, the double life of a Bunburyist (written just before Wilde’s own double life “quite exploded”, like poor Bunbury), the impossibility of eating muffins in an agitated manner, and two much quoted and paraphrased lines:
* “To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.” Lady Bracknell
* “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.” Algernon

The ending is apparently happy, despite only one of two key points being definitively resolved. Perhaps that’s to placate Cecily:
I don't like novels that end happily. They depress me so much.
No matter. Wilde’s wit is the thing.

Then and Now

The original audience would have laughed at the portrayal of themselves, or those in their circle. Our modern society seems so very different, but we are still there, in the play: Lady Bracknell’s alternative facts (quoted below), Miss Prism’s trashy trilogy, being swayed by the vagaries of fashion, and torn between pleasure and duty, comfort eating, and even the difficulty of finding suitable childcare. We should laugh at ourselves, as much as them.

I have nothing in common with Cecily Cardew except a first name, but the novelty of encountering another Cecily was a small part in its initial appeal and is an even smaller part of my enduring fondness for it. I have read and seen it (including an operatic adaptation) many times, and acted in it once (but not as Cecily).

WH Auden described this as “The only pure verbal opera in English.” Who am I (or you) to disagree?

A Hand-bag!

To be born, or at any rate bred, in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.” Lady Bracknell

Picture of baby in “a somewhat large, black leather hand-bag, with handles to it”.

Lady Bracknell would have been early 40s, but aged Edith Evans’ cinematic exaggeration is the performance that sticks, regardless of how subsequent actors deliver it:

Alternative Facts

Lady Bracknell has many questions to assess a suitor, including their all-important address(es):

Lady Bracknell. “What number in Belgrave Square?”
Jack. “149.”
Lady Bracknell. [Shaking her head.] “The unfashionable side. I thought there was something. However, that could easily be altered.”
Jack. “Do you mean the fashion, or the side?”
Lady Bracknell. [Sternly.] “Both, if necessary, I presume.”

Quotes Grouped by Subject

These are hidden for brevity. No real plot spoilers.

Image Sources
* Video of spun sugar decoration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h9-s...
* Baby in “a somewhat large, black leather hand-bag, with handles to it”: https://normalinlondon.files.wordpres...
* English muffin, toasted, and buttered: http://imaginatorium.org/pics/b02406m...
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
458 reviews3,242 followers
December 25, 2021
Algernon (Algy) Moncrieff, is being visited, by his enigmatic friend, Ernest Worthing, that is "Ernest" in town and Jack (John), in the country. It's a long story, but we have time, Mr.Worthing, likes to go to town! Get as far as possible, away from his stifling, depressing, responsibilities at home, change his name to Ernest and becomes his younger brother ( who doesn't exist). Do the wrong things, everybody has secrets, still lies in fact, flow like maple syrup on pancakes, from his lips. That's the charm of this play, finding out the truth, strange but the facts, will eventually make it all right. The constantly broke Algernon, also likes telling a few untruths, he has an imaginary friend, at his age! Bunbury, chiefly used, by Mr. Moncrieff, to get out of going, to see the intimidating Lady Bracknell, his aunt. Friend Bunbury, always becomes gravely ill, just as his presence is needed , at his relative's residence, the good man, goes to see the sick friend, what devotion! There are not many like him, around anymore, but the sick man inevitably recovers, which greatly irritates his Aunt Augusta, wishing that Bunbury, makes up his mind, is he staying or going? Lady Bracknell is very, very, scary, she makes people uncomfortable, the sooner they get out of her sight, the more comfortable they become...Her husband , Lord Bracknell, hides upstairs and is not seen very often, except by his family, most people in London don't know he exists. His wife likes it that way... Today Aunt Augusta, comes to see her nephew, bringing along her quiet daughter, Gwendolen. Ernest/Jack is madly in love with her, she seems not to mind too much, but of course there is a problem. Ernest was found in a railroad station, in a handbag, at the tender age of one, nobody knew where he came from, fortunately for the baby, being adopted by his founder, a very rich, and kindly, old gentleman. Who, when he expired, left him, Ernest, a wealthy man, in his will, 28 years later, complications arise, Mr. Worthing, proposes to Algernon's cousin, she accepts, yet Lady Bracknell seems dubious. He is not on her list, of worthy bachelors, starts asking questions, who are his parents? Tells the great lady , he doesn't have any, she replies, that seems like carelessness, which annoys the not quite earnest, Ernest. Now the unethical Mr.Moncrieff, is eavesdropping, writes down his friend's unknown address, the "shy" man, never told him, and after everyone leaves, he hops on a train and arrives at Worthing's home. Pretends to be Ernest, Jack's never seen evil brother, another pretend surprise, at meeting with Cecily, his friend's beautiful 18- year-old ward, granddaughter of his late benefactor. Love at first sight, she wants to reform the notorious man, he's very willing to become respectable , all is going well, but Jack (this is the country), returns home, you guessed it , also the fearsome, Lady Bracknell and daughter. Trouble, with a capital T, both girls are engaged to a man called Ernest!Which cause hurt feelings and a lot of turmoil, name calling and disagreeable scenes, before the resolution of our play...A witty and amusing story, making fun of the foibles of the upper class , by Oscar Wilde ...who else?
Profile Image for Anne.
3,922 reviews69.3k followers
February 26, 2023
Exactly how important is it to be Earnest?
If you've read, listened to, or watched this play then you know the answer to that question is very important.


The gist is that two young(ish) gentlemen both have aliases. Both of those aliases are Earnest and both of them use said aliases to escape from responsibilities.
And now they've both fallen in love. Each of these women met them while they were Earnest, and (in a twist that could only happen in a rom-com) both women feel that they could only love a man whose name is Earnest.
It's a whole thing, trust me.


Wilde's story pokes fun at the society of the day, skewering the emphasis that was put on having the correct parentage. But it's also just an excellent comedy in that you have two lying men in love with two women with unreasonable expectations.
And that's why this is probably my favorite classic play.
I can read/listen/watch this thing all day long. <--but not really. Because you'd have to be a helluva lot crazier than I am to do some shit like that.
Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
519 reviews417 followers
April 3, 2023
When I first read this play, I felt that I might have missed the essence of it. Well, I'm happy to say I have. :) I have certainly not understood the underlying grave social criticism and thus, have under-appreciated. So here I am, trying to make up for my misunderstanding of one of the greatest plays written by Oscar Wilde.

The Importance of Being Earnest is one brilliantly written comedy. But through the wit and humour, one can see the depth of his satire, when he lashes at and ridicules Victorian morality and conventions. The hypocrisy of the Victorian institution of marriage and the "requirements" for forming a suitable alliance are utterly ridiculed, and the superficiality of the upper society is thoroughly exposed.

Through satirical dialogues of Algernon's and Lady Bracknell's, Wilde exposes the false and nonsensical attitudes of Victorian upper society. "You don't seem to realise that in married life three is company and two is none" This view of Algernon speaks volumes of the true nature of marriages of the "rich and noble". And I particularly enjoyed this conversation between Algernon and Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell refers to a recently widowed friend and says "I never saw a woman so altered; she looks quite twenty years younger", to which Algernon replies "I hear her hair has turned quite gold from grief." Jack Worthing is a wealthy gentleman, but his parentage is questionable, and thus, not an eligible match for a daughter of a peer. How strictly Victorians were concerned in the lineage are shown from these sharp words of Lady Bracknell: "You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter.....to marry into a cloakroom, and form an alliance with a parcel" But this same lady has no scruple in consenting for a marriage of Jack Worthing's wealthy ward, Cecily Cardew to her nephew, Algernon. "A hundred and thirty thousand pounds! And in the Funds! Miss Cardew seems to me a most attractive young lady, now that I look at her."

Two dialogues strike me as particularly interesting when exposing the shallowness of Victorian society. One is when Gwendolen says that "In matters of grave importance, style not sincerity, is the vital thing". The other is Cecily's answer to the question of whether she knows about the relations between capital and labour to which she answers "All I know is about the relations between Capital and Idleness - and that is merely from observation"!

Finally, the story is about two gentlemen, Algernon Moncrief and Jack Worthing. both of whom are leading double lives. Upper-class gentlemen were quite known for their indiscretions. To keep a respectable front to society while indulging in their misconducts, they needed to have two kinds of lives. And that's what Oscar Wilde severely attacks here. "Earnestness" was considered a very important virtue by the Victorian high society, but Wilde shows that none have ever cared to practice it.

This is no doubt that The Importance of Being Earnest is Wilde's best "drawing room" play. It is also one of the best plays that I've read. There was animation, wit, social satire, and humour that it was such fun to read it. I still prefer An Ideal Husband personally, but I believe that no other play of Wilde has displayed the depth that we see here.
Profile Image for Brina.
904 reviews4 followers
April 23, 2017
I read The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde as part of classics bingo to satisfy my satire square. Educated at Oxford in the late 19th century, Wilde was a product of strict upper class British social mores. He married and fathered two children and then came out as homosexual. Wilde's plays and novellas poked fun at the society which had renounced him and later put him on trial. Earnest received good marks in London prior to Wilde's social downfall and has made a comeback in classic reading circles.

Although not usually a fan of comedy, I could not help but chuckle at the premise of this play. Jack Worthing is a man of unknown origins. He had been found at a train station inside of a handbag by a Thomas Worthing, who gave Jack his name and adopted him as a nephew. Jack, perhaps Wilde's alter ego, grows to detest the society that he lives in, and gives himself the name Ernest while living in London, fooling all but his closest companions. Among the upper crust that he usually loathes, Jack as Ernest falls for one Gwendolen Bracknell, who only desires to marry him because of Ernest's earnest personality. As a result, the charade continues.

The play shifts to the countryside where Worthing owns an estate and is ward to his niece Cecily. There he is only known as Uncle Jack and is head of the household. Hoping to one up Worthing with his trickery, his friend Algernon Montcrieff comes to call and poses as Jack's supposed brother Ernest. Cecily falls for Algernon as Ernest because of his name and earnest personality and the lies and charades continue to a third act.

Eventually, Wilde ties up the deceitfulness neatly in three acts. I am not a fan of comedy and felt things carried on a bit far. Most of Wilde's work, Earnest included, was meant to mock the society who ridiculed him for being homosexual. Wilde ridiculed them back with the inclusion of the character Bunbury and noted that Algernon was a Bunburyist. I imagine that the audience laughed at this dialogue, but to me it is more alarming that the upper class British society at the time was so rigid as to not allow for deviations from its mores. With Earnest, Wilde was able to poke fun at both society and himself.

Oscar Wilde's plays have stood the test of time as satirical comedies. I chose to read one of his plays because I read Dorian Gray years ago in school and did not enjoy it. Desiring to see if my perspective had changed, I selected one of Wilde's plays for my satire in bingo. At this point, I understood the comedy but still felt that the joking carried on a bit far, proving that I am more a fan of dramatic plays. Still, The Importance of Being Earnest was a worthy read in that it shed light on 19th century England and its customs. As a result, I rate this play 3 stars.
Profile Image for Sanjay Gautam.
222 reviews440 followers
September 14, 2016
Some times it makes me wonder that this play was written ages ago. This book seems to be a contemporary classic! It seems there are lots of movies based on the theme of this play. And one more thing I noticed that it has all the spices of an Indian comedy movie.

It's full of witticism and humour, but sometimes so silly that you cannot stop laughing out loud. A fun read that will make you forget your troubles for a while!
Profile Image for L A i N E Y (will be back).
394 reviews678 followers
January 15, 2018
To lose one parent may be regarded as misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness

I wish, with all my heart, someone would ask me “Hey have you read anything by Oscar Wilde?”

Just so I could emphatically say “YES. Yes I have!”

I did feel like I have accomplished some unknown personal reading goal with this: I’ve read Oscar Wilde now. And wasn’t he a riot!

Lady Bracknell, hands down, the MVP of this story. All the best lines were from her ladyship.

I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbury. I hadn’t been there since her poor husband’s death. I never saw a woman so altered; she looks quite twenty years younger.

Come, dear, we have already missed five, if not six, trains. To miss any more might expose us to comment on the platform.

I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing

A thoroughly experienced French maid produces a really marvelous result in a very brief space of time. I remember recommending one to young Lady Lancing, and after three months her own husband did not know her.

Profile Image for Lea.
118 reviews348 followers
July 18, 2021
“I am sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays.”

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
Profile Image for Amanda.
282 reviews315 followers
May 6, 2012
I have come to a basic conclusion: Oscar Wilde was the man. And this play proves it. Full of zingers, witty banter, the well-crafted insult, and all things that make Wilde, well, Wilde, the play had me laughing out loud at lines like "The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to someone else if she is plain" or, as a resigned Jack realizes none of them may be married, "Then a passionate celibacy is all that any of us can look forward to."

Also characteristic of Wilde is that there is a lot more going on here than comedy. With a sharp eye, Wilde cleverly satirizes all aspects of aristocratic life. For all their cleverness, these are despicable people. They are petty, vain, arrogant, and vapid. And hysterical.

Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder
Profile Image for leynes.
1,103 reviews2,951 followers
October 18, 2021
The first thing I've ever read from Oscar Wilde. It immediately became one of my favourites. The rest is history.
To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune... to lose both seems like carlessness.
I honestly have no idea how I am to review my favorite play of all time, one of my favorite pieces of literature altogether. Oscar Wilde is such a clever and witty man and he really had a way with words. He is the self-proclaimed "Lord of Language" and "Genius" - oh boy, you really can't read Wilde without taking into consideration his life and character. This man was (IMO) a walking contradiction or just really good at making fun about himself because he is kinda the dandy which he critizes in his plays and he kept company with people of society which he is trash-talking in his plays. I LOVE THIS MAN!

So, let's talk about The Importance of Being Earnest. A brilliant play that lives through its witty lines, hilarious situations and confusions.

(Keep in mind that I have read the full version, aka the 4 ACT piece)

The play starts out in Algernon's morning-room and we immediately see that Algernon will be a central character in this play - our dandy. Witty beyond words and has to add his two cents to literally everything. The first lines of the play are as follows:
ALGERNON: Did you hear what I was playing, Lane?
LANE: I didn't think it polite to listen, sir.
ALGERNON: I'm sorry for that, for your sake.
This sets the tone about right. :D He is then visited by his dear friend Mr. Ernest Worthing. And oh Lord, the interaction of this was always so full of humour and that they basically couldn't agree on anything and always went head to head was just damn amusing.
JACK: I have come up to town expressly to propose to her.
ALGERNON: I thought you had come up for pleasure? ... I call that businees.
ALGERNON: The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I'll certainly try to forget the fact.
I really appreciated that most of the time Jack really wasn't having Algy's shit and fired back because Algy needs to be set straight.

Their whole argument about Jack's real name (upon Algy haven taken his cigarette case and learning that Jack is called Jack and not Ernest - even though "Jack" introduced himself as Ernest to Algy) is just so funny and how Jack is trying to find excuses and Algy is having none of it. And how Jack is trying to hide his relations in the country and telling Algy that Cecily is his aunt (because he fears Algy taking interest in her) ist just damn amusing:
JACK: Some aunts are tall, some aunts are not tall. That is a matter that surely an aunt may be allowed to decide for herself.
The two gentlemen after talking about the business that Bunburying is are interupted by Lady Bracknell (Algy's Aunt Augusta) and her daughter Gwendolen (Jack's sweetheart).

And while Algy is entertaining his aunt, Jack manages to propose to his sweetheart only to be interrupted by Aunt Augusta:
LADY BRACKNELL: Mr. Worthing! Rise, sir, from this semi-recumbent posture. It is most indecorous.
She is not pleased of Jack's uncertain origin and his lack of worth and doesn't see him fit to marry Gwendolen. The humour in those scenes is really high and Oscar's satire on England's upper class just on point and Jack is left with the ultimatum to "produce at any rate, one parent, of either sex, before the season is quite over." I CAN'T DEAL - this is great!
So things aren't looking too great for our little sweethearts at the end of ACT ONE.

In this act we get to know Jack's relations in the country - Cecily and Miss Prism (I love how they basically mirror Gwendolen and Lady Bracknell in their actions and beliefs)
and the whole mix up/confusion/drama as Algy (that little fucker, man :D) decides to visit them under the pretence of being Jack's wayward brother "Ernest" (which Cecily and Miss Prism only know from tales... because Jack uses the figure "Ernest" to have an excuse to spend more time in the city).

Cecily is head over heels for the "bad boy". Things start to get real hilarious when Jack shows up with the terrible news that his brother Ernest died (LOOOOL)
MISS PRISM: What a lesson for him! I trust he will profit by it.
MISS PRISM: After we had all been resigned to his loss, his sudden return seems to me peculiarly distressing.
Oh man, I wish I would have been there to see the look on Jack's face when he found out that Algy poses as his brother Ernest. PRICELESS!

So by the end of this act Jack is highly distressed and just wants Algy to leave so that his lies will not be revealed to Cecily and Miss Prism.

Act 3 has great humour in it because it is a closer examination of Algy and Cecily's relationship. I loved it when she talked about how she fantasized about Jack's wayward brother and even married him in her dreams and then broke off the engagement and Algy plays along and is just deeply affected.

The whole clash of Gwendolen and Cecily and the confusion that they both think that they are engaged to the same person - a man named Ernest - was just perfection. I loved how Oscar played it out:
GWENDOLEN: (quite politely, rising)
CECILY: (very politely, rising)
GWENDOLEN: Five counties! I don't think I should like that; I hate crowds.
CECILY (sweetly): I suppose that is why you live in town?
I loved how the whole misunderstanding was resolved by Jack entering first and Gwendolen quizzing him and then Algy entering and Cecily quizzing him. The humour was just on point (as always with Wilde). And how immediately afterwards Cecily and Gwendolen became besties and hugged each other and called one another "sisters". HILARIOUS!

The ladies are toying with the men now by telling them that they're both promised to a mysterious brother named "Ernest" and not to a John and an Algernon. It's quite funny. The men have to decide how to act next but their consultation between one another brings nothing but nonsense. Algy is quite chill about the whole thing but Jack is on edge. The whole muffin incident is just ridiculous (Algy is such a chowhound).

We are coming to end to this wonderful play. The women decide to confront the men because both Algy and Jack were too cowardly to go out to them and ask for forgiveness. I had a little bit of a WTF-moment when Gwen and Cecily insisting on Algy and Jack changing their Christian names to Ernest but then it was soon resolved that this was just a test to see if the boys would do it an alas, they would. So the woman are awfully touched and forgive them everything.

The rest of the play is basically Lady Bracknell showing up at the country and fucking shit up. I loved it! We have one of the most ridiculous scenes in this entire play in which Algy tells his aunt that Mr. Bunbury died:
LADY BRACKNELL: Dead! When did Mr. Bunbury die? His death must have been extremely sudden.
ALGERNON (angrily): Oh! I killed Bunbury this afternoon. I mean poor Bunbury died this afternoon.
LADY BRACKNELL: What did he die of?
ALGERNON: Bunbury? Oh, he was quite exploded.
LADY BRACKNELL: Exploded! Was he the victim of a revolutionary outrage? I was not aware that Mr. Bunbury was interested in social legislaction.
I mean, this is just brilliant.

Oscar also had a little hint about homosexuality in the scene in which Jack and Lady Bracknell argue about Cecily's "worth" (so how much money she has in the banks). And upon learning thatshe is quite wealthy Lady Bracknell changes her whole opinion on her and tells Jack that
LADY BRACKNELL: A French maid produces a really marvellous result in a very brief space of time. I remember recommending one to young Lady Lancing, and after three months her own husband did not know her.
JACK: And after six months nobody knew her.
Here Jack (aka Oscar) is alluding to the fact that Lady Lancing turned gay and was sleeping with the maid. I love it!

The whole revelation about Jack's origin at the end was pulled off quite wonderfully. It turns out that Jack was the baby that got accidently mixed up with a handbag full of manuscripts and that he is the son of Lady Bracknell's sister AND THEREFORE ALGY'S BROTHER. And then a cherry is put on top when Bracknell through the consultation of old family books remembers that Jack was actually named fucking ERNEST at his birth. It was quite perfect:
JACK: I've now realised for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest.
It also gets really interesting if you take into consideration that when Oscar wrote this play "earnest" had an ambiguous meaning and also meant "gay". So Oscar - being the witty and sassy man that he is - just expressed his own (very controversial) belief through Jack in this play and I love him for it.

The story is so beautifully crafted and has so many hilarious moments. I love it very much!

Favorite quotes:
ALGERNON: You don't seem to realise, that in married life three is company and two is none.

ALGERNON: (The sound of an electric bell is heard) Ah! that must be Aunt Augusta. Only relatives, or creditors, ever ring in that Wagnerian manner.

ALGERNON: Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven't got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die.

ALGERNON: All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.

ALGERNON: If I am occasionally a little over-dressed, I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated.

CECILY: People never think of cultivating a young girl's imagination. It is the great defect of modern education.

GWENDOLEN: I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

CECILY: This no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners.

ALGERNON: It is much cleverer to talk nonsense than to listen to it, my dear fellow,

JACK: I hardly know who I am kissing.
GWENDOLEN: I hope that will be the last time I shall ever hear you make such an observation.

JACK: Gwendolen, it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth.
Profile Image for Steven.
525 reviews34 followers
June 16, 2007
Oscar Wildre was pretty darn quotable, wasn't he:

The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her if she is pretty and to someone else if she is plain.

To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.

In married life, three is company, and two is none.

I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing.

If I am occasionally a little over-dressed, I make up for it by being immensely over-educated.

My favorite memories of this book is the movie we had to do for our 12th grade English Lit class with this dialogue in which my friend Matt began his role by looking through a telescope. I remember there being more laughter in the movie than there was actual dialogue.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
March 15, 2020
“I am sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays.”

I needed a laugh and so I listened to this play that I have read and seen many times, and once I was part of putting together a high school production. It is a play “Of trivialities for serious people,” which is to say that it is intended to be nothing but clever, witty, a send-up of the rich and pompous, of “society.” All the characters are almost indistinguishably shallow and funny. And anything but truly earnest. Which is what Jack needs to be named to be accepted by Gwendolyn. That’s the (spoiler alert) importance of being Earnest, for Jack, anyway.

It’s full of one-liners, quips, bon mots, a veritable candy shop of sweet nothings, often in the form of ironic twists, oxymorons:

"Cecily: I hope it did not end happily? I don't like novels that end happily. They depress me so much."

“Indeed, no woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating.”

“To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.”

“I have a business appointment that I am anxious. . . to miss.”

“Gwendolen, it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?”

That sort of thing. But there is a range of humor, including:

“To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”


“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

And another kind of the more slapstick variety:

“Ever since I met you I have admired you more than any girl. . . I have ever met since. . . I met you.”

A kind of farce, so fun especially when done well. Much ado about nothing but language play.
Profile Image for Barbarroja.
155 reviews40 followers
October 23, 2020
¡Ah, si las comedias televisivas tuviesen la mitad de elegancia e ingenio que esta obra de Wilde! Recuerdo que hace ya bastantes años la vi representada en Estudio 1 (por internet, no soy tan viejo para haberla podido ver en la tele), y me gustó mucho. Siempre había querido leerla, y ahora que lo he hecho, no puedo haber quedado más satisfecho. Divertida, inteligente, liviana, ingeniosa, trivial... Una comedia deliciosa, en suma, del gran Oscar Wilde, que nunca me defrauda.
Profile Image for Umut.
355 reviews164 followers
October 6, 2019
This was an absolute delight! I read The Picture Of Dorian Gray from Oscar Wilde before. If you haven't read, it's a very good book too. But, I had no idea he wrote such hilarious plays somehow.
I'm so happy I discovered it and I'll keep reading his plays for sure.
If you're looking for really well written, funny plays with charming characters, please read this.
126 reviews98 followers
December 26, 2020
What a play it is! Such amazing pace and terrific use of humor to speak the 'unspeakable.' Although the play is replete with eligible men pursuing beautiful women, homosexuality looms large over it.
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,016 reviews364 followers
April 19, 2020
Hey Woody, is that you?

"Hey Woody, is that you?" ???!!!

Mas que escolha de frase mais 'estapafúrdica' para encabeçar uma review duma peça com a assinatura de Oscar Wilde!!!

What the hell does it mean?!

Se me passassem para as mãos o manuscrito desta peça para que conjecturasse sobre a paternidade da mesma, volvidas algumas páginas, soltaria uma interrogação do tipo:

- O quê?! O Woody Allen também já escreve teatro?

"My dear Algy you talk exactly like you were a dentist. It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn't a dentist. It produces a false impression"

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either and modern literature a complete impossibility"

"You don't seem to realize that in married life three is company and two is none"

seriam , entre outras, citações facilmente identificáveis como criações do génio prolífico de Woody Allen.
Aquele humor insano, cínico, sarcástico a que Woody Allen nos habituou, é uma característica gritante desta pequena estória.
Dir-se-ia que a sociedade inglesa foi previamente distorcida num sonho e retratada em intervalos periódicos de sonambulismo pseudo consciente!
O resultado foi uma crítica social plena de imaginação e humor inteligente.
Bastam 3 palavras para caracterizar esta peça:

Louca. Genial. Hilariante.

Para terminar, só mais uma coisa:
Será que a Alma de Oscar Wilde decidiu visitar a nossa época na pessoa de Woody Allen?

- Hey Oscar, is that you? ;)

A quem interessar, a peça encontra-se aqui:


Leiam-na bem devagar, pois vão chorar por mais logo que acabar !
Profile Image for ♛Tash.
223 reviews212 followers
March 4, 2016
Ah this was delightful, says I while I sip my tea and take delicate bites of my crumpet. That is code for chugging Sunny-D and shoveling pizza bites into my mouth.

This rom-comedy of errors is fantastic. Oscar Wilde elevated throwing shade to everything to such an elegant artform. The banter is clever, the pacing smooth and the twist surprisingly unexpected.

Sass level: Oscar Wilde

A must read and see.
Profile Image for Alex.
152 reviews30 followers
June 30, 2020
This play doesn't need an introduction or a review. This is Oscar Wilde's most famous piece of work.

The story revolves around four characters John Worthing (who also goes by the name of Ernest), his friend Algernon, Algernon's cousin Gwendolen who loves Earnest (only because of his name!) and John's ward Cecily. So Algernon wants to know more about Cecily and John wants to be engaged to Gwendolen and they are waiting for a suitable opportunity. This play is about mistaken identities, lying male characters and yes verbal fight between the female characters over love! Almost every dialogue in the play is clever and witty.

My favourite character in the whole play is Cecily. Cecily's dialogues are very intelligent and interesting and always funny, especially about her writing the diary!. The only reason I am denying 5 stars to this book is because of the lack of depth in the dialogues and jokes. They were good but not deep, they never let you think about it. Pretty much direct, except with the diary and the idea of "Banburying".
Profile Image for Gary.
942 reviews205 followers
August 28, 2019
Still extremely popular 124 years after being first produced at the St James Theatre.
Full of Oscar Wilde's characteristic repartee, sparkling wit and epigrams.

The humour is as current today as it was in 1895. Two young man, Jack and Algernon, woo their respective young sweethearts by claming the name of Ernest, creating great confusion.
Due to his seemingly dubious birth, Jack is prevented from marrying his beloved Gwendolyn, by her insufferable guardian, Lady Bracknell, while Jack is not quite happy about the debonair Algernon wooing his charge, the charming young Cecily.

But all is well that ends well and circumstances; through a remarkable twist work out just fine.

One of the best loved works of the master, Oscar Wilde
Profile Image for Arthur Graham.
Author 70 books651 followers
August 16, 2013

I'm Ernest P. Worrell, and I approve this message.


Now, there's been an awful lotta discussion goin' on 'round these parts, lotsa blow-hards and no-brains spoutin' off their own uninformed, silly-ass opinions on the matter, but me I'm fixin' to put an end to all this nonsense, right here right now. Yessiree Bob, that's right -- I'm about to explain to y'all knuckleheads the TRUE importance of being Ernest, so listen up!

Lemme ask you somethin' -- Have you ever survived the Kikakee warrior initiation rite? I sincerely doubt it, because 98% of those to even attempt it since 1987 are stone dead -- every last one of 'em. And do you wanna know why? Because they didn't understand the goshderned importance of being Ernest, that's why! Honestly, anyone dumb enough to stand still while knives, axes, arrows, and bullets come flyin' at 'em is either not that important to the plot of Ernest Goes to Camp, or they're me, Ernest.


'Nuther question for ya -- Have you ever met Santa Claus? Cuz I have. Oh, so you have too? You wanna take a sec to think that one through, dummy? Mull it over in that mound of mush you call a brain? Yep, that's what I thought -- dude at the mall is NOT the real Santa, and neither is your ma or pa. In fact, if you can show me someone else you know who's gone ridin' in Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve night, I'll show you one lyin'-ass bitch who ain't gettin' nuthin' but coal in their stocking this year! Go watch Ernest Saves Christmas if you don't believe me. If that don't make Ernest important, I don't know what does.

And while you're at it, you might wanna check out Ernest Scared Stupid. I'll admit that this one was probably the beginning of the end for me, but that don't change the fact that it's still an important entry in the classic Ernest canon.

But what happens when someone else shows up claimin' to be Ernest? I'll tell you what happens -- I get sent to prison, carve a gun out of soap, and they make a goshderned lilly-fartin', sissy-ass play out of my far superior motion picture film, Ernest Goes to Jail! I swear, it's like this Oscar Mayer Wilde guy has no respect for his source material, and it really shows through in this play. I mean what a wiener, knowhutImean?

I'm still givin' it four stars though, because at least he got the endin' right.

Dedicated to Jim Varney, 1949-2000
Profile Image for Sara.
1,080 reviews362 followers
February 11, 2018
Wilde certainly has a way with words.

I love the complexity and multi layered plot for this. Everything from the title is a play on words, satirical and funny. Although it's relatively short, it's well developed and the characters are fully formed and fleshed out well. Algernon is a firm favourite. He seems to get all the best lines, and his wit is as sharp as a sword. His decision to turn up at Jack's country house as his brother Ernest is this driving force behind the conclusion of the play too.

Delightful. I'll be looking for more Oscar Wilde plays.
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