Presentation on theme: "The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde."— Presentation transcript:
The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde
As Oscar Wilde stated, The Importance of Being Earnest is “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People.” The brilliance and wit of the play lie in the dialogue, however, and not the plot. This should be taken into account when reading the play.
The Importance of Being Earnest takes place in London and the countryside in 1895 –the last few years of the period that would be termed Victorian England The English aristocracy flourished during this time It is a satire
What is Wilde satirizing?
Oscar Wilde liked to make fun of upper-class Victorian society In this play he pokes fun at –Strict Victorian social rules –The shallowness of the idle rich It is this group on which Wilde’s satire focuses, along with their view that marriage has nothing to do with love, but is rather a means for achieving social status.
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 When you do become engaged to someone, I, or your father... will inform you of the fact. Lady Bracknell You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter to marry into a cloakroom, and form an alliance with a parcel? Lady Bracknell To speak frankly, 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 On Marriage
Miss Prism: No married man is ever attractive except to his wife. Chasuble: And often, I’ve been told, not even to her. It would hardly have been a really serious engagement if it hadn’t been broken off at least once. Cecily I do not propose to undeceive him. Indeed I have never undeceived him on any question. Lady Bracknell
On Morals I am not in favour of this modern mania for turning bad people into good people. Lady Bracknell... pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy. Cecily A classical allusion merely, drawn from the Pagan authors. Canon Chasuble It is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking the truth. Jack
On Shallowness We live, as I hope you know, Mr. Worthing, in an age of ideals.... My ideal has always been to love someone of the name of Ernest. Gwendolyn Jack: You never talk anything but nonsense. Algernon: Nobody ever does. I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them. Algernon The absence of old friends one can endure with equanimity. But even a momentary separation from anyone to whom one has just been introduced is almost unbearable. Miss Prism
I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train. Algernon 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 remind one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution. Lady Bracknell Well, I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One must eat muffins quite calmly, it is the only way to eat them. Cecily How nice of you to like me so much after we have known each other such a comparatively short time. Cecily
On Education I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Fortunately in England... education produces no effect whatsoever. Lady Bracknell But I don’t like German. It isn’t at all a becoming language. I know for a fact that I look quite plain after my German lesson. Cecily He has never written a single book, so you can imagine how much he knows. Cecily
Wilde also pokes fun at himself –Like Wilde, Algernon and Jack are dandies
In Victorian times only men could be dandies. An authentic dandy –enjoyed fine clothes and expensive habits –used refined language –spent most of his time socializing –lived to have fun
No gentleman ever has any money. If I am occasionally a little over-dressed, I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated. Algernon My duty as a gentleman has never interfered with my pleasures in the smallest degree. Algernon He has nothing, but he looks everything. What more can one desire? Lady Bracknell
A well-bred Victorian woman, on the other hand, was modest and reserved. Few kinds of enjoyment were open to her outside the home.
On Women Pardon me, you are not engaged to any one. 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. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself. Lady Bracknell [In a very patronizing manner] 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! Jack How absurd to talk about the equality of the sexes! Where questions of self-sacrifice are concerned, men are infinitely beyond us. Gwendolen
Algernon and Jack may look like proper young Victorian gentlemen. But each—unknown to the other—is leading...
Country City Jack (Ernest) “My name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country” (121). “I have always pretended to have a younger brother of the name of Ernest who lives at the Albany” (122). (Bunbury)Algernon “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” (123). CecilyGwendolen Jack’s “excessively pretty ward“I am in love with Gwendolen. I who is only just eighteen” (137).have come up expressly to propose to her” (118). Jack Miss PrismLady Bracknell Cecily “lives at my place in the Algernon’s Aunt Augusta country under the charge of herGwendolen’s strict mother admirable governess, Miss Prism” (122).
Algernon Moncrieff *Young bachelor who lives in London Good friend of Jack –At the start of the play Algy thinks Jack’s name is Ernest Member of the Victorian upper class Primary pursuit is Bunburying Falls in love with Jack’s ward, Cecily
Lane is Algernon’s manservant at his flat in London.
John Worthing, J.P. City: he goes by the name of Ernest Country: he goes by the name of Jack –he believes Jack is his real name Wishes to marry Lady Gwendolyn –Cannot secure the approval of her mother, Lady Bracknell As a baby, Jack was discovered in a handbag in a cloakroom at Victoria Station –does not know his own history or his true family Legal guardian of Cecily Cardew
Merriman is Jack’s Butler at the Manor house.
Lady Bracknell Mother of Gwendolyn and aunt of Algernon Member of the aristocracy Overpowering and confident Forbids Gwendolyn to marry Jack
Gwendolyn Fairfax Young, beautiful daughter of Lady Bracknell In love with Jack –a large part of her attraction comes from her belief that his name is Ernest
Cecily Cardew Jack’s daydreaming niece and ward –She will be given access to a large sum of money when she comes of age Falls in love with Algernon, believing him to be Jack’s brother Ernest
Miss Prism Cecily’s tutor Strong proponent of Victorian morality –She once wrote a three-volume novel –Enjoys flirting with Rev. Chasuble
Rev. Canon Chasuble, D.D. Rector of the church in the country has something of a crush on Miss Prism Jack and Algy each ask him to rechristen them Ernest