Oscar Wilde - The Importance of Being Earnest, review

Genre: comedy of manners, farce

Subject matter: beauty, art, marriage, romance (love), money (Lady Bracknell)

Theme: easy life of London society aimed at pleasure, which creates unpredictable social, but sometimes funny, situations.

Setting: London – Algernon Mongrieff’s flat, Woolton – the garden at the manner house, Woolton – drawing room at the manner house

Point of view: 3rd person

Style: diction – neutral / formal

Tone: wit, satire / cynics – Lady Bracknell

Characters: Algernon Mongrieff (Algy)

Jack (Earnest) Worthing – 29 years old, guardian of Cecily

Lady Bracknell (Aunt Augusta) – Algy’s aunt

Gwendolen (Miss Fairfax) – Algy’s cousin, her ideal is to marry a man whose name is Ernest

Cecily – 18 years old, Jack’s ward, she hates learning. She can also love only man whose name is Ernest

Dr. Chausuble – rector – preaches in Baptist church, can re-christen both Algy and Jack

Miss Prism – former teacher (guardian of lord Bracknell’s children) who lost one of his children in leather bag

 

Content:

1) Mr. Jack (Ernest) Worthing comes to Algernon’s flat.

2) Algy finds out that Jack uses double identity, he is Jack in the country to please others and Ernest in the town to please himself, so Algy calls him Bunburyst (he uses similar trick to rid of relatives, using simulated friend Bunbury).

3) Jack reveals his secret and also his decision to get rid of Ernest if Gwendolen accepts his proposal and the same advice gives to Algy.

4) Lady Bracknell and her daughter Gwendolen come to visit Algy, Jack proposes Gwendolen and finds out that she can love only man of the name Ernest.

5) Lady Bracknell doesn’t agree with marriage of Jack and her daughter because he is orphan.

6) Algy comes to Jack’s country house, pretending to be Jack’s brother Ernest, meets Cecily, Jack’s ward and makes a proposal to her, but he also finds out that she can also love only man with the name Ernest.

7) Meanwhile, Jack arrives announcing Ernest’s death and organizes his re-christening, tries to send Algy back to London but without success, Algy wants to be re-christened too.

8) Gwendolen arrives at mannor house to see Jack, meets Cacily, they become friends but when they talk about Ernests a row occurs.

9) As Jack and Algy enters it is clear that they were deceived.

10) Lady Bracnell arrives at manor agrees with marriage of Algy and Cecily – Jack oppresses. As soon as lady Bracknell hears about miss Prism she calls her in. Miss prism explains how she left a hand-bag with a boy at Victoria station.

11) Jack brings the bag and calls Miss Prism his mother but Lady Bracknell explains that Jack is Algy’s older brother and that he was really christened Ernest after his famous father.

 

Quotations:

 

The very essence of romance is uncertain. If I get married I’ll try to forget the fact.

I think It is high time Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or die.

To loose one parent, Mr. Worthing, maybe regarded as misfortune, to loose both looks like carelessness.

I am glad, however, that he made up his mind at last to some definite course of action and acted under proper medical advice. -  Bunbury died.

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