The Importance of Being Earnest



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The Importance of Being Earnest
Oscar Wilde

A comedy of manners on the constraints of morality, the importance of lineage, Victorian values and hypocrisies. Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff are two wealthy gentlemen who invent fictional characters as an excuse to leave their respective home – a strategy known as ‘Bunburying’. Jack intends to marry Algernon’s cousin Gwendolen Fairfax. To see her once in a while he invents a younger brother called ‘Ernest’ who lives in London. Gwendolen’s aunt Augusta doubts that Jack has a respectable family background and finds out that as a baby, Jack was found in a handbag in the cloakroom at Victoria Station. During a visit Algernon casts an eye on Jack’s ward Cecily and introduces himself as ‘Ernest’ – the name of the fictional character he once invented to escape to the countryside. A game of confusions is about to begin…

· · 1895

Critical edition

Wilde, Oscar. "The Importance of Being Earnest." The Annotated Importance of Being Earnest, edited by Nicholas Frankel, Harvard UP, 2015, pp. 49-263. 214 pp., ISBN 9780674048980

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In favour of this entry

  • Charged with meaning
  • Classic
  • Explores historical contexts
  • Recommended by a federal state: Bavaria, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony-Anhalt