The Importance of Being Earnest
28 Installments—Entirely free
Take a break and go "bunburying" with this zany farce of double identities, romantic intrigue, and more than a few fellows named Ernest.
This witty, satirical play by Victorian author Oscar Wilde centers on the double lives that characters create in order to escape onerous social obligations. Whenever the aristocratic young Londoner Algernon wants to avoid an awkward social situation, he claims to need to visit his fictional sick friend in the countryside. Algernon's real best friend Ernest Worthing, who lives in the country, also leads a double life, which Algernon soon discovers. In the country he is known as Jack, the serious man in charge of raising his ward Cecily, but when he goes to London he assumes the identity of "Ernest" so he can have fun. Meanwhile, Jack's description of his pretty, rich ward Cecily has so intrigued Algernon that he determines to meet her, despite Jack's objections. Algernon shows up at Jack's country house and announces himself as "Ernest." Cecily has heard many captivating stories about "Ernest" from her Uncle Jack, so when Algernon arrives pretending to be "Ernest," she is quickly swept off her feet. With so many characters assuming identities, the confusions quickly mount into a hilarious climax, proving that being earnest involves more than just a name.
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Born into a well-to-do Irish family, Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was smart and spirited from his earliest days. His mother a noted poet, Oscar grew up in a cultured world, full of fascinating personalities. In college, Wilde became the poster-boy for aestheticism, a glamorous, pleasure-seeking movement then at the height of fashion. Going on to enjoy a successful career as a poet, playwright, novelist, and lecturer, Wilde would be an icon for the rest of his life. However, his bold and unconventional choices would later bring him face to face with the strict moral code of Victorian society. While married, Wilde embarked on a passionate homosexual affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. Douglas's family, enraged at this relationship, attempted to expose Wilde for what they considered an unforgivable lifestyle. When their battle went to court, Wilde was ultimately convicted and sent to prison for indecency. After this debilitating experience, Wilde left to spend his last years in Paris. Although Wilde was condemned in his day for who he was, his writing and personal courage have restored him to a place of honor among writers. Among his many titles, Wilde is well known for such works as The Picture of Dorian Grey, The Importance of Being Earnest, De Profundis, and The Ballad of Reading Gaol.Back to top
Opening Lines (Experimental)
John Worthing, J.P.
Rev. Canon Chasuble, D.D.
ACT I. Algernon Moncrieff's Flat in Half-Moon Street, W.
ACT II. The Garden at the Manor House, Woolton.
ACT III. Drawing-Room at the Manor House, Woolton.
TIME: The Present.
John Worthing, J.P.: Mr. George Alexander.
Algernon Moncrieff: Mr. Allen ...
Reviewed by ouieggy on Jan 20, 2011
A light read. Loved the use of language. No real surprises in terms of plot, but many witty, sarcastic comments thrown in. I imagine it would be even funnier when acted out!
Reviewed by faizazarin on Jul 26, 2010
so funny to read in small doses everyday! beware you might be "gettint the next installment" a few times a day with this one! how fun!
Reviewed by GinnyPop on Jun 20, 2010
The Importance of Being Earnest
The humor is so different than I had expected. Also, the manners that are depicted for that time are shocking to me, not what I had expected.
Reviewed by ajaychauhan on Jan 24, 2010
Reviewed by jcooper3 on Apr 15, 2009
It started off kind off slow, but then tumbled delightfully forward. I liked it a lot, but surely Earnest/Jack didn't marry his cousin or was that acceptable in those days????
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Ratings for 'The Importance of Being Earnest' by Wilde, Oscar