The Importance of Being Earnest [NOOK Book]

Overview

Set in "The Present" (1895) in London, the play opens with Algernon Moncrieff, an idle young gentleman, receiving his best friend, whom he knows as Ernest Worthing. Ernest has come from the country to propose to Algernon's cousin, Gwendolen. Algernon, however, refuses his consent until Ernest explains why his cigarette case bears the inscription, "From little Cecily, with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack." "Ernest" is forced to admit to living a double life. In the country, he assumes a serious attitude ...
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The Importance of Being Earnest

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Overview

Set in "The Present" (1895) in London, the play opens with Algernon Moncrieff, an idle young gentleman, receiving his best friend, whom he knows as Ernest Worthing. Ernest has come from the country to propose to Algernon's cousin, Gwendolen. Algernon, however, refuses his consent until Ernest explains why his cigarette case bears the inscription, "From little Cecily, with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack." "Ernest" is forced to admit to living a double life. In the country, he assumes a serious attitude for the benefit of his young ward, Cecily, and goes by the name of John (or Jack), while pretending that he must worry about a wastrel younger brother named Ernest in London. In the city, meanwhile, he assumes the identity of the libertine Ernest. Algernon confesses a similar deception: he pretends to have an invalid friend named Bunbury in the country, whom he can "visit" whenever he wishes to avoid an unwelcome social obligation. Jack, however, refuses to tell Algernon the location of his country estate.

Gwendolen and her formidable mother Lady Bracknell now call on Algernon. As Algernon distracts Lady Bracknell in another room, Jack proposes to Gwendolen. She accepts, but seems to love him very largely for his professed name of Ernest; Jack resolves to himself to be rechristened "Ernest". Lady Bracknell discovers them and interrogates Jack as a prospective suitor. Horrified that he was adopted after being discovered as a baby in a handbag at Victoria Station, she refuses him and forbids further contact. Gwendolen, however, manages covertly to swear her undying love. As Jack gives her his address in the country, Algernon surreptitiously notes it on the cuff of his sleeve; Jack's revelation of his pretty and wealthy young ward has motivated Algernon to meet her.

Act II moves to Jack's country house, the Manor House in Woolton, Hertfordshire, where Cecily is found studying with her governess, Miss Prism. Algernon arrives, pretending to be Ernest Worthing, and soon charms Cecily. Cecily has long been fascinated by Uncle Jack's hitherto absent black sheep younger brother, and is thus predisposed to fall for Algernon in his role of Ernest. So Algernon, too, plans for the rector, Dr. Chasuble, to rechristen him "Ernest".

Jack, meanwhile, has decided to put his double life behind him. He arrives in full mourning and announces Ernest's death in Paris of a severe chill, a story undermined by Algernon's presence in the guise of Ernest. Gwendolen now arrives, having run away from home. She meets Cecily in the temporary absence of the two men, and each indignantly declares that she is the one engaged to "Ernest". When Jack and Algernon reappear, their deceptions are exposed.

Act III moves inside to the drawing room. Lady Bracknell arrives in pursuit of her daughter and is surprised to be told that Algernon and Cecily are engaged. The size of Cecily's trust fund soon dispels her initial doubts over Cecily's suitability as a wife for her nephew. However, stalemate develops when Jack refuses his consent to the marriage of his ward to Algernon until Lady Bracknell consents to his own union with Gwendolen.

The impasse is broken by the return of Miss Prism. Lady Bracknell recognises the governess: twenty-eight years earlier, as a family nursemaid, she took a baby boy for a walk in a perambulator (baby carriage) and never returned. Miss Prism explains that she had abstractedly put the manuscript of a novel she was writing in the perambulator, and the baby in a handbag, which she had left at Victoria Station. Jack produces the very same handbag, showing that he is the lost baby, the elder son of Lady Bracknell's late sister, and thus indeed Algernon's older brother – and suddenly eligible as a suitor for Gwendolen.

Gwendolen, however, remains firm that she can only love a man named Ernest. What is her fiancé's real first name? Lady Bracknell informs Jack that, as the first-born, he would have been named after his father, General Moncrieff. Jack examines the army lists and discovers that his father's name – and hence his own real name – was in fact Ernest. As the happy couples embrace – Jack and Gwendolen, Algernon and Cecily, and even Dr. Chasuble and Miss Prism – Lady Bracknell complains to her new-found relative: "My nephew, you seem to be displaying signs of triviality." "On the contrary, Aunt Augusta", he replies,

"I've now realised for the first time in my life the vital Importance of being Earnest".
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940014542142
  • Publisher: DB Publishing House
  • Publication date: 4/26/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 99
  • Sales rank: 1,342,269
  • File size: 507 KB

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 52 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2014

    Love this play!

    My theatre class is going to put on this production at our school in a few months and I can't wait. This play is unbelievably hilarious and witty as well. There are alot of big words that don't quite make sense but when you put it all together it creates the perfect classic story about betrayal and deception and diguise! I have read alot of plays in my 14 year life and this is definately at the very top of my favorites list!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2013

    Simply Delightful and A Quick Read

    This is such a brilliant play! Honestly it's simply hilarious and a must read for absolutely everyone! It's funny enough for reader's to be entertained throughout the play and it uses satirical prose to reveal a deeper meaning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2013

    Yall is stooooooooopid. Go f**k yoselves please read

    Just kudding!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2012

    Rrad silverfishes story at ski result two!

    Yay!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    Very funny

    It was awesome clasic situation. Really easy and fast read. Itvtruly leaves you with a lesson if being earnest

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  • Posted September 5, 2011

    Wonder full read

    I read this when i was in high school and instead of being bored to death my class found this thouraly entertaining and funny i recomend watching the movie :D

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Yearning to Read Review

    Jack: A young man with no parents. Has a ward - the daughter of the man who brought him up. Is entirely overprotective of her. Has a made-up brother named Earnest, a troublemaker who never actually existed and is, in fact, Jack. Is in love with his best friend's cousin, Gwendolyn.
    Algernon: A young man whose parents have died. Has an aunt and a cousin, Lady Bracknell and the aforesaid Gwendolyn. Has a made-up friend, Bunbury, and sometimes tours the country in the guise of this Mr. Bunbury. Falls in love with Jack's ward and decides to meet her as soon as he can - putting aside the fake name of Bunbury and taking on the name of Earnest, stealing Jack's place as Jack's brother.
    In this wonderful romantic comedy, nothing is what it seems, and Jack and Algernon must dig their way out of the little mess they've made for themselves so they can marry the women they love.

    I read this play for school, but I would easily read it again...maybe, now. I was super impressed by the hilarity and perfection of this story. I laughed out loud at the quirky statements that make these characters who they are. I couldn't help but fall in love with Jack. I loved the simplicity and lightheartedness. Without a doubt, this is one of my all time favorite plays.

    Using two words that I've already used, this book is "simply hilarious." I highly recommend it to ages fifteen and up. The reason for this is because I tried reading it in 9th grade and didn't get it at all. It makes much more sense now and I laughed so hard at a few statements that I remembered as boring and stupid. But at the right age, it is definitely worthy and easy read.

    Enjoy! :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Oscar Wilde was a genius!

    I had to read this in my senior year of high school. I am so glad that my teacher had this assigned. This play is so wity it will make you laugh out loud. The characters are so original and Wilde does such a good job of making you want more from them. This is a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2002

    Witty and Humorous

    This book is a perfect example of how people in society potray themselves as dignified individuals while keeping the realization that they play an important role in society. They adjust themselves to fit their own standards, and live up to their character and gender roles of their class and time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2002

    Wildes at his best

    Being the last work of a great writer it does perfect justice to his name and leaves a lasting impact before the curtain is down finally. Oscar Wilde has weilded his mighty pen in this play with its full power and churns out a biting satire on middle class hypocrisy of Victorian England. But as it is true for all great literature this play transcends itself from the limitation of space and time and becomes a classics for all ages and places. I strongly recommend this play for all theatre lovers and stage production as it will be a delightful presentation. However even simply reading of this play is as much a matter of great joy. It is certainly a great value for one's time and money so much so that its worth is really invaluable. It is certainly a literary classics and in this play Wilde is at his best.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2001

    A new bom for WW3!

    This book is a bom!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 12, 2011

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    Posted August 27, 2011

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    Posted June 3, 2011

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    Posted February 27, 2010

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    Posted December 5, 2011

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    Posted August 12, 2010

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