What is important about the importance of being earnest?
The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde’s most popular play, was a runaway success when it premiered in London, England, in February 1895 and ran for 86 performances. Since then, the play has continued to draw large crowds, competing with Oscar Wilde’s 1890 novel The Portrait of Dorian Gray for the title of most well-known work.
The play, however, proved difficult for critics to classify since it defies classification, appearing to some as only a thin plot that provides cover for Wilde’s clever epigrams (terse, often paradoxical, sayings or catchphrases). Others see it as a bitingly funny and perceptive social comedy.
Readers had previously read Dorian Gray, as well as compilations of fairy tales, novellas, and literary criticism when Earnest first came out. He was well-known to theatergoers for his earlier theatrical works, such as his more contentious play Salome (1896), which was banned in Britain due to its racy (by nineteenth-century standards) sexual content, as well as three earlier triumphs, Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), A Women of No Importance (1893), and An Ideal Husband (1895).
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare and Restoration, School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan and She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith have been compared favorably to The Importance of Being Earnest.
Although the influence of these plays may be seen in Wilde’s play, some critics have argued that the author conveys something particular about his time recreating the stage romances and melodramas of the late Victorian era to create a hilarious, sharply satiric work—though audiences typically view the play as just plain entertaining.
Tragically, Wilde himself became involved in the legal battles over his homosexuality that would terminate his career and result in incarceration, bankruptcy, divorce, and exile as his fourth and most popular play, The Importance of Being Earnest, won praise in London.
Storyline Snippet of the importance of being earnest
Jack Worthing, a respectable landowner, and Cecily Cardew’s guardian reside in Hertfordshire. He was adopted by the late Thomas Cardew after being discovered as a baby in an abandoned handbag.
His work in Hertfordshire and his responsibility for caring for his arrogant brother, Ernest, have earned him a reputation as being extremely responsible. But Jack has a little-known secret
He doesn’t really have a sibling. In order to get out of his obligations in Hertfordshire and travel to London to “break loose,” he has been pretending to have a brother named Ernest. In London, he goes by the name Ernest.
As Ernest, Jack has developed a close friendship with a London-based man by the name of Algernon Moncrieff. Jack is likewise smitten with Gwendolen Fairfax, Algernon’s cousin.
Pretending to be Ernest, Algernon makes his way to Jack’s manor in Hertfordshire. Then Jack shows up dressed completely in grief, prepared to break the news that his brother Ernest passed away.
Unexpectedly Algernon, though, forces him to give up on his original goal. Algernon makes a marriage proposal to Cecily while Jack takes off his funeral robe.
Algernon, whom Cecily refers to as Ernest, is informed that they are already engaged. Cecily had a fantasy that she and “Ernest” were already engaged. Algernon determines that in order to be called Ernest, he needs to get his name changed.
Surprisingly, Gwendolen shows up to see Jack (who she still knows as Ernest). Although neither of them is aware of the other’s identity or their relationship with Jack, she and Cecily share a cup of tea in the garden.
Gwendolen is miffed that Ernest never informed her about Cecily when she learns that she is Mr. Worthing’s ward from Cecily. Cecily clarifies, however, that she is Ernest’s brother Jack’s ward and that she is betrothed to marry Ernest Worthing (Algernon).
Gwendolen, who believes that she is engaged to Ernest Worthing, is not pleased with this (Jack). Each woman tries to out-manner the other as the story goes on.
Oscar Wilde observed a lot of hypocrisy in marriage as well as other facets of Victorian high society. In this story, Lady Bracknell makes the observation that Gwendolen’s marriage to Jack would be a failure because Jack is an orphan.
It doesn’t matter that Jack and Gwendolen are in love because social class and riches were major factors in Victorian marriages. The play places a lot of focus on love tales, and the couples featured have a happy conclusion.
With his distinctive sarcasm, Oscar Wilde offers the genre a twist by emphasizing the laughable shallowness seen in the play’s romances. Throughout the entire play, Oscar Wilde satirizes notions of marriage, class, and morality in order to highlight the hypocrisy and absurdity of Victorian society.
The hypocrisy is exposed when Jack is suddenly seen favorably after it is discovered that he is Ernest, a relative of Lady Bracknell, although nothing has suddenly improved. He was already well-known and wealthy. The most crucial quality in a Victorian suitor, the appropriate look of respectability, was what he lacked.