The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

by Oscar Wilde

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Overview

John Worthing is a man with a double life. To two very different young women he is known by two distinct identities. But when a friend meets and falls in love with one of these women, the maintenance of John's deception grows increasingly dangerous as love and regard hang by a thread over the precipice of perdition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9783736800632
Publisher: BookRix
Publication date: 06/10/2019
Sold by: Bookwire
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 84
Sales rank: 215,206
File size: 515 KB

About the Author

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.

Date of Birth:

October 16, 1854

Date of Death:

November 30, 1900

Place of Birth:

Dublin, Ireland

Place of Death:

Paris, France

Education:

The Royal School in Enniskillen, Dublin, 1864; Trinity College, Dublin, 1871; Magdalen College, Oxford, England, 1874

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Scene — Morning-room in Algernon's flat in Half-Moon Street. The room is luxuriously and artistically furnished. The sound of a piano is heard in the adjoining room.

[Lane is arranging afternoon tea on the table, and after the music has ceased, Algernon enters.]

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. I don't play accurately — any one can play accurately — but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life.

LANE

Yes, sir.

ALGERNON

And, speaking of the science of Life, have you got the cucumber sandwiches cut for Lady Bracknell?

LANE

Yes, sir. [Hands them on a salver.]

ALGERNON

[Inspects them, takes two, and sits down on the sofa.] Oh! ... by the way, Lane, I see from your book that on Thursday night, when Lord Shoreman and Mr. Worthing were dining with me, eight bottles of champagne are entered as having been consumed.

LANE

Yes, sir; eight bottles and a pint.

ALGERNON

Why is it that at a bachelor's establishment the servants invariably drink the champagne? I ask merely for information.

LANE

I attribute it to the superior quality of the wine, sir. I have often observed that in married households the champagne is rarely of a first-rate brand.

ALGERNON

Good heavens! Is marriage so demoralising as that?

LANE

I believe it is a very pleasant state, sir. I have had very little experience of it myself up to the present. I have only been married once. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young person.

ALGERNON

[Languidly.] I don't know that I am much interested in your family life, Lane.

LANE

No, sir; it is not a very interesting subject. I never think of it myself.

ALGERNON

Very natural, I am sure. That will do, Lane, thank you.

LANE

Thank you, sir. [Lane goes out.]

ALGERNON

Lane's views on marriage seem somewhat lax. Really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility.

[Enter Lane.]

LANE

Mr. Ernest Worthing.

[Enter Jack.] [Lane goes out.]

ALGERNON

How are you, my dear Ernest? What brings you up to town?

JACK

Oh, pleasure, pleasure! What else should bring one anywhere? Eating as usual, I see, Algy!

ALGERNON

[Stiffly.] I believe it is customary in good society to take some slight refreshment at five o'clock. Where have you been since last Thursday?

JACK

[Sitting down on the sofa.] In the country.

ALGERNON

What on earth do you do there?

JACK

[Pulling off his gloves.] When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people. It is excessively boring.

ALGERNON

And who are the people you amuse?

JACK

[Airily.] Oh, neighbours, neighbours.

ALGERNON

Got nice neighbours in your part of Shropshire?

JACK

Perfectly horrid! Never speak to one of them.

ALGERNON

How immensely you must amuse them! [Goes over and takes sandwich.] By the way, Shropshire is your county, is it not?

JACK

Eh? Shropshire? Yes, of course. Hallo! Why all these cups? Why cucumber sandwiches? Why such reckless extravagance in one so young? Who is coming to tea?

ALGERNON

Oh! merely Aunt Augusta and Gwendolen.

JACK

How perfectly delightful!

ALGERNON

Yes, that is all very well; but I am afraid Aunt Augusta won't quite approve of your being here.

JACK

May I ask why?

ALGERNON

My dear fellow, the way you flirt with Gwendolen is perfectly disgraceful. It is almost as bad as the way Gwendolen flirts with you.

JACK

I am in love with Gwendolen. I have come up to town expressly to propose to her.

ALGERNON

I thought you had come up for pleasure? ... I call that business.

JACK

How utterly unromantic you are!

ALGERNON

I really don't see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I'll certainly try to forget the fact.

JACK

I have no doubt about that, dear Algy. The Divorce Court was specially invented for people whose memories are so curiously constituted.

ALGERNON

Oh! there is no use speculating on that subject. Divorces are made in Heaven — [Jack puts out his hand to take a sandwich. Algernon at once interferes.] Please don't touch the cucumber sandwiches. They are ordered specially for Aunt Augusta. [Takes one and eats it.]

JACK

Well, you have been eating them all the time.

ALGERNON

That is quite a different matter. She is my aunt. [Takes plate from below.] Have some bread and butter. The bread and butter is for Gwendolen. Gwendolen is devoted to bread and butter.

JACK

[Advancing to table and helping himself.] And very good bread and butter it is too.

ALGERNON

Well, my dear fellow, you need not eat as if you were going to eat it all. You behave as if you were married to her already. You are not married to her already, and I don't think you ever will be.

JACK

Why on earth do you say that?

ALGERNON

Well, in the first place girls never marry the men they flirt with. Girls don't think it right.

JACK

Oh, that is nonsense!

ALGERNON

It isn't. It is a great truth. It accounts for the extraordinary number of bachelors that one sees all over the place. In the second place, I don't give my consent.

JACK

Your consent!

ALGERNON

My dear fellow, Gwendolen is my first cousin. And before I allow you to marry her, you will have to clear up the whole question of Cecily. [Rings bell.]

JACK

Cecily! What on earth do you mean? What do you mean, Algy, by Cecily! I don't know any one of the name of Cecily.

[Enter Lane.]

ALGERNON

Bring me that cigarette case Mr. Worthing left in the smoking-room the last time he dined here.

LANE

Yes, sir. [Lane goes out.]

JACK

Do you mean to say you have had my cigarette case all this time? I wish to goodness you had let me know. I have been writing frantic letters to Scotland Yard about it. I was very nearly offering a large reward.

ALGERNON

Well, I wish you would offer one. I happen to be more than usually hard up.

JACK

There is no good offering a large reward now that the thing is found.

[Enter Lane with the cigarette case on a salver. Algernon takes it at once. Lane goes out.]

ALGERNON

I think that is rather mean of you, Ernest, I must say. [Opens case and examines it.] However, it makes no matter, for, now that I look at the inscription inside, I find that the thing isn't yours after all.

JACK

Of course it's mine. [Moving to him.] You have seen me with it a hundred times, and you have no right whatsoever to read what is written inside. It is a very ungentlemanly thing to read a private cigarette case.

ALGERNON

Oh! it is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn't. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read.

JACK

I am quite aware of the fact, and I don't propose to discuss modern culture. It isn't the sort of thing one should talk of in private. I simply want my cigarette case back.

ALGERNON

Yes; but this isn't your cigarette case. This cigarette case is a present from some one of the name of Cecily, and you said you didn't know any one of that name.

JACK

Well, if you want to know, Cecily happens to be my aunt.

ALGERNON

Your aunt!

JACK

Yes. Charming old lady she is, too. Lives at Tunbridge Wells. Just give it back to me, Algy.

ALGERNON

[Retreating to back of sofa.] But why does she call herself little Cecily if she is your aunt and lives at Tunbridge Wells? [Reading.] 'From little Cecily with her fondest love.'

JACK

[Moving to sofa and kneeling upon it.] My dear fellow, what on earth is there in that? Some aunts are tall, some aunts are not tall. That is a matter that surely an aunt may be allowed to decide for herself. You seem to think that every aunt should be exactly like your aunt! That is absurd! For Heaven's sake give me back my cigarette case. [Follows Algernon round the room.]

ALGERNON

Yes. But why does your aunt call you her uncle? 'From little Cecily, with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack.' There is no objection, I admit, to an aunt being a small aunt, but why an aunt, no matter what her size may be, should call her own nephew her uncle, I can't quite make out. Besides, your name isn't Jack at all; it is Ernest.

JACK

It isn't Ernest; it's Jack.

ALGERNON

You have always told me it was Ernest. I have introduced you to every one as Ernest. You answer to the name of Ernest. You look as if your name was Ernest. You are the most earnest-looking person I ever saw in my life. It is perfectly absurd your saying that your name isn't Ernest. It's on your cards. Here is one of them. [Taking it from case.] 'Mr. Ernest Worthing, B. 4, The Albany.' I'll keep this as a proof that your name is Ernest if ever you attempt to deny it to me, or to Gwendolen, or to any one else. [Puts the card in his pocket.]

JACK

Well, my name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country, and the cigarette case was given to me in the country.

ALGERNON

Yes, but that does not account for the fact that your small Aunt Cecily, who lives at Tunbridge Wells, calls you her dear uncle. Come, old boy, you had much better have the thing out at once.

JACK

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

ALGERNON

Well, that is exactly what dentists always do. Now, go on! Tell me the whole thing. I may mention that I have always suspected you of being a confirmed and secret Bunburyist; and I am quite sure of it now.

JACK

Bunburyist? What on earth do you mean by a Bunburyist?

ALGERNON

I'll reveal to you the meaning of that incomparable expression as soon as you are kind enough to inform me why you are Ernest in town and Jack in the country.

JACK

Well, produce my cigarette case first.

ALGERNON

Here it is. [Hands cigarette case.] Now produce your explanation, and pray make it improbable. [Sits on sofa.]

JACK

My dear fellow, there is nothing improbable about my explanation at all. In fact it's perfectly ordinary. Old Mr. Thomas Cardew, who adopted me when I was a little boy, made me in his will guardian to his grand-daughter, Miss Cecily Cardew. Cecily, who addresses me as her uncle from motives of respect that you could not possibly appreciate, lives at my place in the country under the charge of her admirable governess, Miss Prism.

ALGERNON

Where is that place in the country, by the way?

JACK

That is nothing to you, dear boy. You are not going to be invited ... I may tell you candidly that the place is not in Shropshire.

ALGERNON

I suspected that, my dear fellow! I have Bunburyed all over Shropshire on two separate occasions. Now, go on. Why are you Ernest in town and Jack in the country?

JACK

My dear Algy, I don't know whether you will be able to understand my real motives. You are hardly serious enough. When one is placed in the position of guardian, one has to adopt a very high moral tone on all subjects. It's one's duty to do so. And as a high moral tone can hardly be said to conduce very much to either one's health or one's happiness, in order to get up to town I have always pretended to have a younger brother of the name of Ernest, who lives in the Albany, and gets into the most dreadful scrapes. That, my dear Algy, is the whole truth pure and simple.

ALGERNON

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

JACK

That wouldn't be at all a bad thing.

ALGERNON

Literary criticism is not your forte, my dear fellow. Don't try it. You should leave that to people who haven't been at a University. They do it so well in the daily papers. What you really are is a Bunburyist. I was quite right in saying you were a Bunburyist. You are one of the most advanced Bunburyists I know.

JACK

What on earth do you mean?

ALGERNON

You have invented a very useful younger brother called Ernest, in order that you may be able to come up to town as often as you like. I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury, in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose. Bunbury is perfectly invaluable. If it wasn't for Bunbury's extraordinary bad health, for instance, I wouldn't be able to dine with you at Willis's to-night, for I have been really engaged to Aunt Augusta for more than a week.

JACK

I haven't asked you to dine with me anywhere to-night.

ALGERNON

I know. You are absurdly careless about sending out invitations. It is very foolish of you. Nothing annoys people so much as not receiving invitations.

JACK

You had much better dine with your Aunt Augusta.

ALGERNON

I haven't the smallest intention of doing anything of the kind. To begin with, I dined there on Monday, and once a week is quite enough to dine with one's own relations. In the second place, whenever I do dine there I am always treated as a member of the family, and sent down with either no woman at all, or two. In the third place, I know perfectly well whom she will place me next to, to-night. She will place me next Mary Farquhar, who always flirts with her own husband across the dinner-table. That is not very pleasant. Indeed, it is not even decent ... and that sort of thing is enormously on the increase. The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. It looks so bad. It is simply washing one's clean linen in public. Besides, now that I know you to be a confirmed Bunburyist I naturally want to talk to you about Bunburying. I want to tell you the rules.

JACK

I'm not a Bunburyist at all. If Gwendolen accepts me, I am going to kill my brother, indeed I think I'll kill him in any case. Cecily is a little too much interested in him. It is rather a bore. So I am going to get rid of Ernest. And I strongly advise you to do the same with Mr. ... with your invalid friend who has the absurd name.

ALGERNON

Nothing will induce me to part with Bunbury, and if you ever get married, which seems to me extremely problematic, you will be very glad to know Bunbury. A man who marries without knowing Bunbury has a very tedious time of it.

JACK

That is nonsense. If I marry a charming girl like Gwendolen, and she is the only girl I ever saw in my life that I would marry, I certainly won't want to know Bunbury.

ALGERNON

Then your wife will. You don't seem to realise, that in married life three is company and two is none.

JACK

[Sententiously.] That, my dear young friend, is the theory that the corrupt French Drama has been propounding for the last fifty years.

ALGERNON

Yes; and that the happy English home has proved in half the time.

JACK

For heaven's sake, don't try to be cynical. It's perfectly easy to be cynical.

ALGERNON

My dear fellow, it isn't easy to be anything nowadays. There's such a lot of beastly competition about. [The sound of an electric bell is heard.] Ah! that must be Aunt Augusta. Only relatives, or creditors, ever ring in that Wagnerian manner. Now, if I get her out of the way for ten minutes, so that you can have an opportunity for proposing to Gwendolen, may I dine with you to-night at Willis's?

JACK

I suppose so, if you want to.

ALGERNON

Yes, but you must be serious about it. I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.

[Enter Lane.]

LANE

Lady Bracknell and Miss Fairfax.

[Algernon goes forward to meet them. Enter Lady Bracknell and Gwendolen.]

LADY BRACKNELL

Good afternoon, dear Algernon, I hope you are behaving very well.

ALGERNON

I'm feeling very well, Aunt Augusta.

LADY BRACKNELL

That's not quite the same thing. In fact the two things rarely go together. [Sees Jack and bows to him with icy coldness.]

ALGERNON

[To Gwendolen.] Dear me, you are smart!

GWENDOLEN

I am always smart! Am I not, Mr. Worthing?

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Importance of Being Earnest"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Oscar Wilde.
Excerpted by permission of Legend Times Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

ACT I. 4
ACT II. 17
ACT III. 34

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The Importance of Being Earnest 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
IanThomas More than 1 year ago
I am very proud to say I read this play and to an extent, enjoyed it. I first heard of Oscar Wilde from another book and when I found this book by him as a possible choice for some required reading, I was ecstatic. Besides the name, Oscar Wilde was unknown to me. I had no knowledge of prior work, history, or even that he wrote plays, not novels. I was truly going out on a lim with this book. I was and was not disappointed in this book. Eighteenth century literature is very strange to me, especially plays. The way of talking and the humor, I find hard to connect to. The characters are far to formal to the extent of being unrealistic. I do not know if that is just my culture and up bring of unbelievable informality or an overly cocky author trying to establish he position as a highly educated person. All conversation in this play seamed stiff and planned out. This for me was especially apparent when it should have been informal conversation if not very informal. Conversations between the to main characters (Algernon and Jack who are friends) just did not flow for me. Their characters did not flourish. Throughout this play I found that one specific characteristic was present in a characters and all to often became the hole character. I felt that they were all one dimensional, "paper" characters. That may have been what Wilde was after in this "Trivial Comedy for Serious People" but it was lost on me. Although I did not enjoy the characters, I did find the story line and plot very interesting and original. I love how this play and the characters put so much emphasis on a name, a single word. I find this fascinating and that main reason I enjoyed this play. I think Oscar Wilde, with this play, captured the essence of the human love for words, spoken and written. Not only do we feel great emotion with words, we put so much importance in them. There are connotations, alternate meaning and, "forbidden" words. These have so much meaning to us. Meaning that we have put into them. The two main female characters do this with a name, Earnest. They have their minds made up that they will only marry a man with the name of Earnest. This is the plot of the story and for how simple it is, I find it very elegant and lovely. With my likes and dislikes about this play, I must come to the parts I hate, about this book. Ending are meant to wrap it up. They make or break a book. There is no perfect ending but there are many bad endings. The Importance of Being Earnest has one of the worst I know. I hate to bad mouth a renowned piece of literature but for this, I truly feel I must. The fraise "Fairy Tail Ending" dose not cover this "perfect" of an ending. I would not mind if it ended happily but in the way it does, it makes me sick. To fully understand how poor the ending is you must read the book. I know I have given a rather poor review for this book, but I must reinvigorate I did enjoy it. The Importance of Being Earnest is a fine read and I feel should be read. Some parts must be fought though but the final destination is good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I Consider it a Very pleasant chance to study Oscar Wilde's The importance of Bieng Earnest.It Is hard for any playwright or novelist or whatever person to make people laugh through words.However this difficulty was really dissolved,and it was neither difficult nor impossible for Oscar Wilde To attract people's attention and to make them laugh through his works.I Consider , myself, The importance of being Earnest one of the most remarkable works of satire and criticism not only in the Victorian age,but also nowadays,since it discloses many aristocratic behaviors that seems to be very weird and funny at the same time.the several interpretations of this play may be considered as an enough reason for explaining the wit and cleverness of Oscar Wilde.Which,in fact, was translated into words and Acts.Through studying this play,it was clear for me and for my colleagues that Wilde's most important concern is to criticize and assail the Victorian principles and moralites.Wilde Chose some examples of Upper Class poeple to play the role of trivializing a whole culture and philosohpy of life.Characters such as Algernon and Jack are an essential example to reveal Wilde's criticism.They are the effiminite men,who,in the one hand, make pleasure and food as serious and vital as any other mportant and grave issue.on the other hand, they trivialize what is used to be common and widely respecatble in the social view like marriage and love and so on.Oscar Wilde makes his characters play the role of corrupting maxims and saying.Marriage, for instance, has a very common saying about it :'Two is a company three is a crowd', However in the play, this maxim is modified and subverted.it besomes :'in married life, three is a company, and two is none'.the third element in marriage life is business.By mentioning business,one may remark that people in the Victorian age worship money and business more than any other thing.since money provide a full and complete pleasure and comfortable life of them.The feminine Characters in the play, such as Cecily and Gwendolen,though they are well educated but this over intellectualism is standing side by side to their silliness and tiviality.It is really amazing to judge Someone through his name-as what these girls do in fact-.They fall in love with Algernon and Jack not because of their characters,but because of the 'vibrations' produced by their 'unreal' name,Ernest.This trivial motive that stand behind love, is considered on the one hand as a corruption of the moral notion' Love'.it shows love as a trivial emotion that must be criticized.and on the other hand,the silliness of these girls concerning their ' romantic' love,shows how trivial a dandy can be. Lady Bracknell is another important character in the play.She is given some of the wittiest statements of Oscar Wilde himself.She is a great example of the domineering and snobbishing woman,who wants to make her daughter manipulative like her.She wants Gwendolen to be married to a very rich and known man.Her list of 'eligible men' gives us a clear image about her character.She makes the notion of love appear as a deal of business and as a contract that must be beneficial.Her disapproval for the match between her daughter Gwendolen and Jack,is not of his character as an ignorant and a man who smokes,but in the contrary, she disagree with the match because of Jack's unconventional origin.He explaines for L.Bracknell that he was found in a railway station,and that is enough for her to forbid the marriage.This image shows how important the good breed of a person is,because if he is of a good breed and a decent origin so he is automatically acceptable.Otherwise he would be rejected and mocked by people,as what L.Bracknell does in fact with Jack.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading The Importance of Being Earnest in my modern novel class, I became an Oscar Wilde fan. You have to love his wit, dialogue, and clever use of language. A very funny, entertaining, and light play.
NatInTheHat More than 1 year ago
I’m pleased to say that I greatly enjoyed this read. I’m not an avid reader of novels from the nineteenth century (as any inhabitant of generation z would resort to engaging in young adult love stories). The title itself drew me towards opening its pages. I wasn’t expecting a story of love, deception, and “Bunburying”, but more of a medieval tale discussing more serious topics to relate back to the theme of being earnest. Yet, Oscar Wilde did a fantastic job at incorporating and building this drama with a very serious theme based on the societal mores pushed on individuals during the Victorian Era. Being earnest of having earnestness can be defined as expressing sincerity or being serious in intention, purpose, or effort. In this case, this was the topic of all individuals of Victorian society. Victorians held the way of being earnest to an extremely high degree as they believed it to be the virtue of all society -- or a way to be in a vastly aristocratic society. Wilde exhibits this perfectly with Gwendolen as she spews, “We live, I hope you know, Mr. Worthing, in an age of ideals...an my ideal has always been to love someone by the name of Ernest. There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence”. She proceeds to say “the only really safe name is Ernest” and “it is a divine name” with “music of its own”. Even the judgement of her mother (Lady Bracknell) of Gwendolen’s marriage proposal illustrates these restrictives held by Victorian society as she evaluates Jack’s finances, status, and family background -- which is ultimately deemed as not adequate enough to wed her daughter to. Wilde utilizes these instances to enhance the pick-and-choose society that the Victorian era was. Reading up on the author, I noticed Wilde was a passionate Bunburyist himself. There was speculation around the sexuality of the author, as he lived a double life just as much as Jack and Algy did. As a married man with two children and maintaining a secret relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, he was accused of acts of homosexuality and sentenced to 2 years of prison for his “gross indecency”. However the case may be, this comedic play did well in presenting the right amount of drama and sarcasm to saturate the pleasures of any teenager's heart while expressing the author’s distaste for his arbitrary society.
susiesharp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This L.A. Theater Works production was so much fun. Starring James Marsters, Charles Busch, Emily Bergl, Neil Dickson, Jill Gascoine, Christopher Neame & Matthew Wolf. I¿ve seen the a couple different versions of this movie but never read the book and this was probably still closer to seeing the movie but it was so much fun!- it's free to audible members- it's Hilarious- it has James MarstersWhat more could a girl ask for??I could just picture James Marsters as Earnest now I want a new movie made with him in the starring role! Just like I think maybe The Dresden Files TV show could have made it with him in lead, I¿m just sayin¿! Ok I¿ll stop being all James Marsters fangirl now. Because the rest of the cast was great too when I¿m done I have to go to the L.A. Theater Works site and see what the other people look like because I have an image in my head by their voices and I would like to see if I¿m even close!I also enjoyed the epilogue with a little history lesson on Oscar Wilde and his plays it was very interesting.This was just so much fun I highly recommend getting this version! If you are looking for a Short, Fun, Hilarious, Full-Cast audiobook this one is a winner!4 Stars
catalogthis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Radio version from L.A. Theatreworks. Perfect!
name99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mildly amusing, but really not much more than that. Maybe I'm just too familiar with Wilde's brand of witticism, but I frequently found them irritating this time round.
melopher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love the wit and humor saturated in this play. I also enjoyed being able to look at Victorian culture from a different angle. It is quick and funny, and the use of the English language a delight.
bleached on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite plays. A wonderful comedy about society, appearance, and the importance of earnest.
gmillar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
English language as art!
ncgraham on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oscar Wilde, besides being a rather infamous person himself, was an incredibly prolific author during his lifetime. Today he is known almost exclusively for two of his works—The Picture of Dorian Gray, his only novel, and The Importance of Being Earnest, his final play. On the face of things, the two works could not be more different. The first is a dark work of Victorian ¿horror¿ fiction that reveals the evil lurking behind an attractive human face, whereas the latter is a sparkling comedy that satirizes the social order.The principal characters of Earnest are Jack Worthing, a country gentleman of mysterious origin, who has created a fictional brother by the name of Ernest as a means of escaping his responsibilities; Algernon ¿Algy¿ Moncrieff, his urbane, city-dwelling friend; Algy¿s cousin Gwendolen Fairfax, who is in love with Jack; her mother, the imperious Lady Bracknell; and Cecily Cardew, Jack¿s ward. To say any more would be to risk spoiling the story, and anyway the plot is almost too even set up in a review. Let us simply say that because of these five persons¿ conflicting goals and interests, both hilarity and chaos ensues.Some of the lines in this play reminded me deliciously of P. G. Wodehouse (although I¿ve only read one book by that master), especially the opening interaction between the spoiled, indolent Algy and his butler Lane (¿I don¿t play accurately—anyone can play accurately—but I play with wonderful sentiment¿). Throughout I found myself absolutely crowing at some of the situations, particularly when Lady B. was involved.However, I came away from my reading feeling rather empty, and perhaps that is the main connection with Dorian Gray; both left me cold. The great, laugh-inducing lines aside, there really isn¿t much here aside from thinly veiled satire. What Wilde offers here has none of Austen¿s depth and little of Wodehouse¿s endearing qualities; even Kaufmann and Hart provided more real, human characters than he does.It is good entertainment, so the few hours spent reading it are not used in vain, but it provides little food for thought afterward. I think, though, that it is probably better experienced in the theater.
yonitdm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very funny cleverly written. It's a dry humor with great dialogue.
MsNikki on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I bought this on a whim, I recognised the name and decided "Why not".I loved it, it was sharp, funny and oh so relevant.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of wilde's plays and loved them all except for this one. I do not understand how this play became his most famous. All ofhis othe plays have beautiful endings were love or forgiveness triumph. They are witty and funny but tell deep truths about the human condition. This play on the other hand is superficial and has little meaning. The moral being somethin like if you lie and fake your way through life it turns out great. The love in this book is based on first impressions and names. Th dialogue tries to be so witty it is hard to suspend disbelief. The characters have no developement or depth. Not to mention the ending is really aweful. That said his other 5 plays are beautiful work of art and I would recommend any of them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm always skeptical of books I'm required to read for school, but this one was truly great. I absolutely love this story and read the entire play in one sitting.
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This book is probably more appropriate for teens and adults. It is written in a play format. It isn't thought provoking, but it is rather amusing. Essentially, the basic plot are the complications that arise when people insist on developing alter egos. In a way, as far as discussion, you could interest people in discussing the difficulties other well-known characters or people have had that have double identities (for instance, Superman/Clark Kent). Jack Worthing wishes to marry Lady Fairfax. The problem is, her mother doesn't approve of his orphaned background--he was found in a lady's handbag at the train station. Meanwhile, he is planning to kill off his alter ego Ernest--who is young ward is interested in. Complications arise when his friend Algernon decides to impersonate Ernest. The plot held together well and had very nice twists. The mystery of Jack's origins is solved. At first, I had difficulty in understanding whether the banter between people was supposed to be considered funny or insulting...but once I realized they were trying to be witty, I was able to enjoy it more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well writen; exteremley good for alll ages.
The_Softshell_Crab More than 1 year ago
A classic and an excellent read. Only a few very minor formatting issues kept this from getting five stars. A must read.
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REL More than 1 year ago
'The Importance of Being Earnest' is perhaps the most magnificent theatrical display of identity crisis since Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' and just as humorous. In this play, two friends, Mr. Jack Worthing and Mr. Algernon Moncrieff who find themselves to be similarly engaged in the art of creating a pretend character who frequently needs their attention and calls them from home. Jack Worthing creates a fictitious brother, "Ernest" as an explanation to his young ward Cecily and members of his household for his frequent visits to the city. In turn, Algernon invents a friend, Mr. Bunbury, who requires his attentions in the countryside. While in the city, Jack assumes the identity of Ernest and his friend Algernon suspects that Ernest is not truly who he seems to be. Jack confesses to his lie and reveals that he has a beautiful young ward named Cecily in the countryside, prompting Algernon to visit Jack's house. Meanwhile, Jack proposes to Algernon's cousin, Gwendolyn Fairfax and by the time he arrives in his country home, he finds Algernon posing as Jack's made-up brother "Ernest" and trying to win Cecily's affections. When Gwendolyn goes to Jack's country house to see the man she knows as Ernest, confusion and hilarity ensue as the two men pretending to be Ernest learn the importance of being earnest. This play is a must-read for fans of theater, comedy, or just literature in general. Clever, witty, and sophisticated without being meretricious, this is amusing to say the least and exemplary of good writing. Full of brio, this play is complex without being a soap opera and has themes as entertaining and classier than any contemporary reality TV show has to offer. It is short enough to be a great beach read for people desiring a more substantial yet light read.