The Importance of Being Earnest

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The Importance of Being EarnestThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Play premiered: 1895 (St James’s Theatre, London, England)
Pages: 76

I love the dialogue in The Picture of Dorian Gray, but I started to drift during those few chapters in the middle that were all description. It makes sense then that I’d love Oscar Wilde’s plays, and I thought I’d start with his most popular work.

Would you be in any way offended if I said that you seem to me to be in every way the visible personification of absolute perfection?

This is an absurd comedy that revolves around two couples, their marriage proposals, and false identities. The readers (or audience members) are always aware of the truth, and the fun is in watching how everything plays out. The plot is lighthearted and clever, poking fun at the values held dear in Victorian society, but what really shines here is Oscar Wilde’s wit, and the plot serves its job to deliver that wit perfectly.

The subtitle for the play is A Trivial Comedy for Serious People, and that’s what’s so fun about it. Unlike Dorian Gray, where similar attitudes were shown to have dark consequences, triviality is fully embraced here. Marriage in particular is treated as a whim, while things like cucumber sandwiches and journaling are taken quite seriously.

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

As fun as this play is, it gains notoriety as being the beginning of Wilde’s downfall. It was during one of these performances that he was publicly outed as gay, a criminal offence at the time. This led to his incarceration, from which he was eventually released impoverished and injured. The injury led to fatal meningitis a few years later. It’s a tragic injustice that such a great writer was ruined because of his sexual orientation.

I plan to read the rest of his plays, and I think I’ll seek out the film adaptations as well. He’s hilarious, and I love his use of the language. Every line of dialogue was a pleasure to read.

I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.

3 thoughts on “The Importance of Being Earnest

  1. Pingback: The Classics Club

  2. Literary Exploration

    I remember seeing the play of this and thought it was brilliant. All those lines, I felt like I should write them day and tell them to my family. šŸ˜› I really should pick this up and read it as well.


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