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The Importance of Being Earnest: Top 100 Books PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: The Importance of Being Earnest: Top 100 Books
Author: Oscar Wilde
Publisher: Published July 19th 2016 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform (first published 1895)
ISBN: 9781535391467
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy of manners set in Victorian England. Algernon lives in London and says he has a sick friend in the country. He uses visits to his imaginary friend to get out of things. His best friend, Ernest, is also Jack and is doing the exact same thing. Misunderstandings abound in this comedy. 'The truth is rarely pure, and never simple.', ' The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy of manners set in Victorian England. Algernon lives in London and says he has a sick friend in the country. He uses visits to his imaginary friend to get out of things. His best friend, Ernest, is also Jack and is doing the exact same thing. Misunderstandings abound in this comedy. 'The truth is rarely pure, and never simple.', '...in married life three is company and two is none.' Is this play a 'unique work of art' as Oscar Wilde believed? Or, as a first-night reviewer claimed in 1895, it 'represents nothing, means nothing, is nothing'? This is for you to decide.

30 review for The Importance of Being Earnest: Top 100 Books

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bookdragon Sean

    “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 “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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    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 on 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    “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 fa “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.”

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ashwood (애쉬 우드).

    Hilarious and entertaining read, the wit and sarcasm in this book was outta this world🙃👌🏻

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cecily

    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 underpinn 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. Plot 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyuoU... 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. (view spoiler)[ Food Quotes “I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.” Algernon The play is rife with storms over teacups, muffins, cucumber sandwiches (lack thereof), and cake, none of which affect the plot, but all of which shine a dark light on the characters. Jack. “How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless." Algernon. "Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them." Jack. "I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.” Picture: English muffin, toasted, and buttered Algernon. [Picking up empty plate in horror.] “Good heavens! Lane! Why are there no cucumber sandwiches? I ordered them specially.” Lane. [Gravely.] “There were no cucumbers in the market this morning, sir. I went down twice.” Algernon. “No cucumbers!” Lane. “No, sir. Not even for ready money.” * “When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. Indeed, when I am in really great trouble, as any one who knows me intimately will tell you, I refuse everything except food and drink.” Algernon * “You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar, and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, you have given me cake.” Gwendolen to Cecily Education and Erudition Quotes * “I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever.” Lady Bracknell * “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.” 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.” Algernon * “Dr. Chasuble is a most learned man. He has never written a single book, so you can imagine how much he knows.” Cecily * “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” Gwendolen Personal note: I was only a little younger than Wilde's Cecily when I first saw the play. At the time, I kept a diary of sorts, but afterwards, it never felt quite the same. I suppose it wasn't sensational enough. Society and Etiquette Quotes * “Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can’t get into it do that.” Lady Bracknell * “Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.” Lady Bracknell * “My duty as a gentleman has never interfered with my pleasures in the smallest degree.” Algernon * “When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people. It is excessively boring.” Jack * “I never saw anybody take so long to dress, and with such little result.” Algernon (of Jack) Bunbury Quotes Lady Bracknell. “I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd.” Algernon. “The doctors found out that Bunbury could not live, that is what I mean - so Bunbury died.” Lady Bracknell. “He seems to have had great confidence in the opinion of his physicians. I am glad, however, that he made up his mind at the last to some definite course of action, and acted under proper medical advice.” Marriage Quotes * “You don’t seem to realise, that in married life three is company and two is none.” 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.” Algernon * “I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing. Which do you know?” Lady Bracknell * “A moment, Mr. Worthing. 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. Few girls of the present day have any really solid qualities, any of the qualities that last, and improve with time. We live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces. [To Cecily.] Come over here, dear. [Cecily goes across.] Pretty child! your dress is sadly simple, and your hair seems almost as Nature might have left it. But we can soon alter all that. A thoroughly experienced French maid produces a really marvellous result in a very brief space of time.” Lady Bracknell * “I do not approve of mercenary marriages. When I married Lord Bracknell I had no fortune of any kind. But I never dreamed for a moment of allowing that to stand in my way.” Lady Bracknell And THAT is why she is so picky about who might marry Gwendolen. * “When you do become engaged to some one, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be.” Lady Bracknell * “I am not in favour of long engagements. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other's character before marriage, which I think is never advisable.” Lady Bracknell * “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.” Algernon Cecily. “Do you suggest, Miss Fairfax, that I entrapped Ernest into an engagement? How dare you? This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. When I see a spade I call it a spade.” Gwendolen. [Satirically.] “I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different.” * “The General was essentially a man of peace, except in his domestic life. ” Lady Bracknell Chasuble. [With a scholar’s shudder.] “The precept as well as the practice of the Primitive Church was distinctly against matrimony.” Miss Prism. [Sententiously.] “That is obviously the reason why the Primitive Church has not lasted up to the present day. And you do not seem to realise, dear Doctor, that by persistently remaining single, a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation. Men should be more careful; this very celibacy leads weaker vessels astray.” Miss Prism. “No married man is ever attractive except to his wife.” Chasuble. “And often, I’ve been told, not even to her.” Other Contrary Quotes Many of the most memorable lines subvert etiquette, logic, common sense - and themselves. In Wilde's day, homosexuals were often called inverts, and many of his best lines are inversions. * “I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.” -Cecily * “If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.” Gwendolen * “Although she may prevent us from becoming man and wife, and I may marry some one else, and marry often, nothing that she can possibly do can alter my eternal devotion to you.” Gwendolen * “What on earth you are serious about I haven’t got the remotest idea. About everything, I should fancy. You have such an absolutely trivial nature.” Algernon (of Jack) * “I have never met any really wicked person before. I feel rather frightened. I am so afraid he will look just like every one else.” Cecily * “The old-fashioned respect for the young is fast dying out.” Gwendolen * “I could deny it if I liked. I could deny anything if I liked.” Lady Bracknell. “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.” Lady Bracknell. “I had some crumpets with Lady Harbury, who seems to me to be living entirely for pleasure now.” Algernon. “I hear her hair has turned quite gold from grief.” (hide spoiler)] 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...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    My read of An Ideal Husband last week convinced me that I needed to read this 1895 play again, 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 t My read of An Ideal Husband last week convinced me that I needed to read this 1895 play again, 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).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brina

    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 re 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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    L A i N E Y

    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. 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    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 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?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sanjay Gautam

    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!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    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 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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    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 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

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    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 o 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.

  14. 5 out of 5

    ♛Tash

    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.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Arthur Graham

    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 initiati 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. KnowhutImean? '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

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    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 to 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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Khush

    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. In the opening scene, we meet Lane and his master – Algernon. The very tenor of their talk reveals their homosexuality. Lane married once, but he considers it a big mistake; now he lives with his master. Their relationship demands a certain propriety, but we see how Lane reveals aspects of his persona 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. In the opening scene, we meet Lane and his master – Algernon. The very tenor of their talk reveals their homosexuality. Lane married once, but he considers it a big mistake; now he lives with his master. Their relationship demands a certain propriety, but we see how Lane reveals aspects of his personal life to his master as if they were close friends. Their talk reveals homo-social aspects of the household. One can assume even more considering the fact that the master is a confirmed 'Bunburyist'– he practices it everywhere. However, the play does not spell out what the word means. The master, when meeting his friend Jack, claims that Jack, too, is a Bunburyist Algernon insistence on calling Jack a Bunburyist puts him on the defensive. The clever reader even in Wilde's own time would immediately recognize what Wilde was hinting at. The modern reader, on the other hand, is charmed by Wilde's ingenuity in dealing with 'homosexuality.' The very word Bunbury evokes a range of meanings and gels so well with modern day queer lexicon. The word runs throughout the play. Another fascinating aspect of the book is food. Right in the opening scene, we see Lane preparing cucumber sandwiches for the lady guests – Algernon's aunt and her daughter. It is not any other sandwich, but a cucumber sandwich. Finally, when the ladies arrive, the cucumber sandwiches are already consumed (by Jack). Lane is sent out to buy readymade cucumber sandwiches, with Jack still around, one does not feel too convinced as to the fate of those cucumber sandwiches (still not brought by Lane). All this constant fuss about cucumber sandwiches distinctly allude to the homoerotic aspect of the play (women are bereft of them, only men ravish them in the play). The play is layered when seen from the perspective of sexuality. On the other hand, it gives immense pleasure even if one ignores the hidden meanings, and reads only what meets the eye. The words brilliance, economy, style, craftsmanship, which are so often (ab)used in book reviews, seem absolutely justified in describing this remarkable play. Humor is used as a weapon. Wilde goes on and on in exposing the (sexual)hypocrisies of his times. A world in which everyone is straight; all men at all times chase women. They get married, and then life stops, nothing happens after this point, the play ends too. In this world, many men hardly meet their wives, they go 'Bunburying', they just have to keep the facade. Women, on the other hand, play roles too in such sham by keeping it up, no matter how taxing that all could be. For instance, at one point in the play, we hear about a widow whose hair has turned gold from grief, and she had never looked so healthy before she became a widow. Towards the end, again we see food emerging with full force (While in the opening scene cucumber sandwiches give pleasure; Jack wants to eat them with delight and relish, there is no conflict of any sort, three men are seen inhabiting the space freely). Jack and Algernon's true identities are about to be revealed. The conflict with women sets in because their their lies are exposed in front of the women, they panic. So in confusion Algernon turns to muffins (no cucumber sandwiches, no homo-social setting of the opening scene) to soothe himself, he does not relish them, he just devours muffins to calm and soften his agitation. Wilde depicts a society that curtails certain sexualities so well that its members themselves censure and regulate what is native to their bodies and souls. If one just looks at these characters both men and women, and see how they approach one another, how quickly they fall in love without meeting each other. They 'love' the idea of love more than the actual person. When sexuality is repressed, men and women become alienated with their own selves in a profound way. No wonder that they begin to fall in love with the names first and only then with the actual persons.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Barbarroja

    ¡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.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Piyangie

    The Importance of Being Earnest is yet another witty and humorous read of Oscar Wild! Most of Oscar Wild works are filled with satire, and here is no exception. This story represents a section of the upper class society and it features mistaken identity of two men who represent themselves as "Ernest" to their respective love interests. This follows much confusion till the final truth is revealed. And finally when the truth comes out it is interesting to find that both are neither "Ernest" nor "e The Importance of Being Earnest is yet another witty and humorous read of Oscar Wild! Most of Oscar Wild works are filled with satire, and here is no exception. This story represents a section of the upper class society and it features mistaken identity of two men who represent themselves as "Ernest" to their respective love interests. This follows much confusion till the final truth is revealed. And finally when the truth comes out it is interesting to find that both are neither "Ernest" nor "earnest"! I really do like Wild as a playwright. I think he is at his best when he writes plays. That suits his thinking and the style of writing. In his plays, there is animation, wit and humour; and it is such fun to read him.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Spoiler alert: There's nothing earnest about this play. Or is there?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hirdesh

    Lovely drama by Great writer and poet. Excellent writing and Candidly flew by all characters. It comprises of comedy in well defined fashion throughout all Acts. Glad to read, Awaited for prolong.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Vimal Thiagarajan

    One of those timeless plays that still retains its original charm after innumerable conscious and unconcious repititions of varying degrees in Indian movies. A splendid critique on not just Victorian society but almost any modern society, cooked up in the most palatable form with plenty of wit and irony. Best thing about it is that none of the characters seem to be aware of their hypocrisies, which creates an amplifying mirror of the real world. Will have to read more of Wilde.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa J.

    Oscar Wilde is simply a genius. I could end this review with that statement, but I won't so I can convince you if you haven't read anything by this man. Honestly, what makes this play so good? Simply put, it's actually nothing. Why? It's just plain ridiculous and foolish, but it made me laugh like nothing had done for a while. Yet... how could I like something that is, in essence, foolish and I'm constantly complaining about that? Because that's what Wilde pretended. This is not a play with a seri Oscar Wilde is simply a genius. I could end this review with that statement, but I won't so I can convince you if you haven't read anything by this man. Honestly, what makes this play so good? Simply put, it's actually nothing. Why? It's just plain ridiculous and foolish, but it made me laugh like nothing had done for a while. Yet... how could I like something that is, in essence, foolish and I'm constantly complaining about that? Because that's what Wilde pretended. This is not a play with a serious tone - it's just a satire. The plot is really simple to prove that. What is this about, anyway? It's about a man called Ernest... a man who in reality does not exist but is a creation of two men who find privileges in calling themselves by the name of Ernest. It's a play of mistaken identities (in the best Shakespearean sense), of love... and it's a satire too! I cannot praise this highly enough. Oscar Wilde is (along with Hermann Hesse) probably my #1 absolute favourite author. ... Bonus time! Some absolutely hilarious and/or epic quotes: The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility! Tell me you don't agree with that. 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. Oh, Oscar... The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square. Told you this play was a satire, didn't I? 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! I don't even know how to respond to that. I don’t like novels that end happily. They depress me so much. That quote describes me perfectly as a reader. The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means. I think I just died. No married man is ever attractive except to his wife. I lol'ed so much at that... In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing. Keep it goin', Wilde! ... If you aren't intrigued after reading all these quotes, then I don't know what to do to convince you. This play was seriously great and Oscar Wilde is, I repeat, a genius.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ana M. Román

    No he podido acercarme de mejor forma a Oscar Wilde. "Una comedia trivial para gente seria" No hay una definición más adecuada que la que nos da su autor. Es divertida pero a base de utilizar de una forma muy fina el lenguaje. Está cargada de ironía, dobles significados y sátiras. Es un humor diferente, inteligente. Y si especialmente amas la ironía (mea culpa) te va a encantar. Aunque me gusta el teatro no soy precisamente una fan de leer obras de teatro, lo mío son las representaciones en especi No he podido acercarme de mejor forma a Oscar Wilde. "Una comedia trivial para gente seria" No hay una definición más adecuada que la que nos da su autor. Es divertida pero a base de utilizar de una forma muy fina el lenguaje. Está cargada de ironía, dobles significados y sátiras. Es un humor diferente, inteligente. Y si especialmente amas la ironía (mea culpa) te va a encantar. Aunque me gusta el teatro no soy precisamente una fan de leer obras de teatro, lo mío son las representaciones en especial los musicales, pero Wilde hace que eso no me importe en absoluto. He disfrutado como una enana y lo he leído lentamente, disfrutando. Ya lo tengo apuntado en mi lista para leerlo en inglés porque tiene que ser una gozada. Además, se debe disfrutar más debido a las palabras de doble significado de las que el autor hace buen uso. Si sabes algo de inglés es posible que te des cuenta, sino tal vez las pases por alto. Por eso, una próxima lectura en inglés es algo obligatorio.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    CECILY [To Gwendolen]: That certainly seems a satisfactory explanation, does it not? GWENDOLEN: Yes, dear, if you can believe him. CECILY: I don’t. But that does not affect the wonderful beauty of his answer. Amen. Maybe it’s the contrast that makes me appreciate Wilde’s comedy so much. Knowing that he spent two years in prison doing hard labor with nothing to read but Pilgrim’s Progress, and that he died young and poor as a result … all that makes his funny lines sweeter to me somehow. This play CECILY [To Gwendolen]: That certainly seems a satisfactory explanation, does it not? GWENDOLEN: Yes, dear, if you can believe him. CECILY: I don’t. But that does not affect the wonderful beauty of his answer. Amen. Maybe it’s the contrast that makes me appreciate Wilde’s comedy so much. Knowing that he spent two years in prison doing hard labor with nothing to read but Pilgrim’s Progress, and that he died young and poor as a result … all that makes his funny lines sweeter to me somehow. This play is delightful. I scarfed it up the way Algy eats muffins.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    There is absolutely nothing earnest about this hilarious and clever play that details what can happen when you take a fib a little bit too far. If you have never imagined what it could be like to have an alter ego to get you out of (or into) certain situations, you are probably lying. Think Sandy from Grease when she transformed from poodle skirt wearing sweetheart to leather pant wearing sex symbol—except you never really transform, you just lie about your name being Ernest while away from home There is absolutely nothing earnest about this hilarious and clever play that details what can happen when you take a fib a little bit too far. If you have never imagined what it could be like to have an alter ego to get you out of (or into) certain situations, you are probably lying. Think Sandy from Grease when she transformed from poodle skirt wearing sweetheart to leather pant wearing sex symbol—except you never really transform, you just lie about your name being Ernest while away from home, and once the girl you want falls in love with you, she’s so enamored by the name Ernest that she refuses to accept a hand in marriage from anyone named anything but. Oops, looks like you’re screwed… it's too bad your real name is Jack. Although very short, there is definitely enough action packed into this play to keep you entertained. I only wish I could build a time machine to take me back to pick the brain of such a brilliant writer.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    Comedy is tough to do well, even by those who create it, but it is even tougher to go back and restage past comedies for modern audiences. The easy explanation is that humour is such a product of its time that audiences are simply not capable of getting the jokes -- not truly. There may be something to that, but I think the real problem is more complex, and I think it can be remedied. Most comedies, particularly those that hold up and become memorable classics, tell their jokes to make a point. G Comedy is tough to do well, even by those who create it, but it is even tougher to go back and restage past comedies for modern audiences. The easy explanation is that humour is such a product of its time that audiences are simply not capable of getting the jokes -- not truly. There may be something to that, but I think the real problem is more complex, and I think it can be remedied. Most comedies, particularly those that hold up and become memorable classics, tell their jokes to make a point. Great comedies are generally political, either explicitly or implicitly, and the laughs spring out of the message(s) being delivered. On the surface, again, the time distance between a comedy's creation and restaging could be blamed for any problems. Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, for instance, satirizes the Victorian era in which it was written, so modern audiences simply don't have inherent access to the shared experiences that would have made The Importance of Being Earnest easily accessible to its audiences. Yet I don't consider these problems of time insurmountable. The real problem arises in the way directors and actors approach classic comedies. It is not so much their or the audience's understanding of the setting as it is what they choose to emphasize in their restaging. Restagings of comedies invariably focus on the humour, and in doing so they deliver the humour humourously. Everything is an attempt to be funny, so the restaging becomes about buffoonery, slapstick, the obviously funny, and the subtleties of great comedies are drowned out by the vuvuzuela cacophony of silliness. The most recent screen adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest is a prime example. Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Reese Witherspoon, Francis O'Connor and even Dame Judi Dench -- under the misguided direction of Oliver Parker -- do everything they can for cheap laughs, making their characters a pack of blithering, over-the-top idiots rather than the trivially serious idiots Wilde intended them to be (the play is subtitled, after all, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People). The key to The Importance of Being Earnest, as with so many comedies from the past, is to play it straight. The comedy is in the writing rather than the performance. Algernon and Jack are written to believe the inane things they say, they are also written to believe the brilliant things they say, and it is their belief in who they are, silly as that may be, that makes them genuinely funny. It is the genius of Wilde: to make us believe that his characters believe in themselves. But when the people restaging Wilde don't believe that his characters believe, when they don't believe in the characters themselves, they wind up being too silly by far. (e.g. they have Algernon prance around in plate mail armor while wooing Cecily). Yep, playing comedy for laughs is a mistake. Comedy is a serious business, and when it is performed seriously it is vastly funnier than comedy performed foolishly. The laughs will come, they don't need to be shopped for. So if you ever have a chance to see The Importance of Being Earnest onstage, I hope that you find a group of performers who are playing it seriously, delivering the jokes with the conviction that Jack and Algy should have rather than delivering the jokes as jokes. If you do the time it was written, the distance between now and then won't matter one wit. You'll see a comedy as fresh and relevant and genuinely funny as anything being written today -- and The Importance of Being Earnest will forever be one of your favourites. I promise.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ravi Prakash

    As far as I can recall, this is the second most entertaining drama after Pygmalion by Shaw, that I read ever. Dialogues are the soul of Comedy, I think, and the style in which Wilde has put it would make you laugh now and then while reading. . This can also be termed as a work of Satire on the societal snobbery of late Victorian era. Paradoxes, wit, and humor, elegantly intertwined with sentences give a Wow feeling. . This Comedy is just in three acts, and the plot is so hilarious, amusing and susp As far as I can recall, this is the second most entertaining drama after Pygmalion by Shaw, that I read ever. Dialogues are the soul of Comedy, I think, and the style in which Wilde has put it would make you laugh now and then while reading. . This can also be termed as a work of Satire on the societal snobbery of late Victorian era. Paradoxes, wit, and humor, elegantly intertwined with sentences give a Wow feeling. . This Comedy is just in three acts, and the plot is so hilarious, amusing and suspenseful that you can't leave without finishing it. Characters may seem you ridiculous, but the snobbery shown by them might be genuine in accordance to the time-period. . After reading this I watched the movie made on this play in 1952. The dialogue delivery of Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell amused me much.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    I've gotten to the point where, barring a few momentously surprising highs and lows, I know what I'll like and what I will not. This is not an absolute method, but one of categories where in order to be good, one must be very, very, very good. Comedy? Check. Satire? Check. Rich white people problems? All the checks. Furthermore, when I say 'good' I'm speaking of awareness of power, the ratio of jokes that punch up to those which punch sideways or down, A Modest Proposal versus 'The Big Bang Theo I've gotten to the point where, barring a few momentously surprising highs and lows, I know what I'll like and what I will not. This is not an absolute method, but one of categories where in order to be good, one must be very, very, very good. Comedy? Check. Satire? Check. Rich white people problems? All the checks. Furthermore, when I say 'good' I'm speaking of awareness of power, the ratio of jokes that punch up to those which punch sideways or down, A Modest Proposal versus 'The Big Bang Theory'. I don't read for willfully vacuumed gratification. That's what playing video games is for. So, this is cute. Very cute. Super soap bubble pixie maniac dream humor cute. The inherent problem with being assigned to read this for class is seeing all this rightfully playwright performed cuteness laid out cold without any benefit of timing, costume, or reaction of the brain's emotion coming faster than its thought. Being introduced to this through prose, Wilde's epigrams come across as "Ah. I see where I was supposed to laugh. That's nice." However, here in class, we're about to embark on a long and complicated explanation of how Wilde was doing Really Academically Important Things in his satire, so I'll hold off on further lackluster commentary till I see what's going on with this. Reporting back, Victorian society's tendency to value the representation over the represented has reached an all time high with requisite depreciation of communication, social bonds, gender relations, economic hierarchies, and a bunch of other tiny things that can be made fun of without giving any privileges up. In short, the 19th century version of the white comedians' snickers at jokes about "Hollywhite" at the Academy Awards: tiny pokes for maximum commercial profit. Grand. Not my thing, but Wilde's beloved enough to survive without me. P.S. The most interesting thing about this, really, is the balancing act of the English Empire in conjunction with appropriating the Irish Wilde and co. as their own. Gotta love historical accreditation that poses as ahistorical classic.

  30. 4 out of 5

    MsAprilVincent

    Oscar Wilde is my backup husband, after William Shakespeare. I don't care that he was gay; he's also dead, but I'm not really making that an issue, am I?

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