Algernon compliments Cecily to her great delight. She then tells Merriman that the dogcart can come back next week. He asks Cecily to marry him, and she points out that they have been engaged for three months. Cecily shows him the box of letters he "wrote" to her which she really wrote to herself. She also admits that she loves him because his name is Ernest. Upon promptin, she doubts she would be able to love him were his name Algernon. He says he needs to see Chasuble quickly about "christening I mean on most important business.
Merriman announces that Gwendolen has asked to see Mr. Worthing Jack. Cecily informs him that he has gone off to see Chasuble some time ago, but invites her in. Gwendolen immediately takes to Cecily, but wishes Cecily were not so young and alluring, as "Ernest," despite his moral nature, is still susceptible to temptation.
The Importance of Being Earnest
Cecily tells her that she is not Ernest's ward, but his brother Jack's. Rather, she is going to marry Ernest. They compare diary entries. Gwendolen feels she has the prior claim, since Ernest asked to marry her yesterday. The girls argue and insult each other. Jack enters the garden, and Gwendolen asks if he is engaged to Cecily; he laughs and denies it. Cecily says the man before them is her Uncle Jack. As Gwendolen goes into shock, Algernon enters, and Cecily calls him Ernest.
She asks if he is married to Gwendolen; he denies it. Gwendolen says that his name is Algernon. Cecily is shocked, and she and Gwendolen hold each other and make up. Jack confesses he has no brother Ernest, nor any brother at all. The women retire to the house. Jack is angry at Algernon for stirring up trouble with his Bunburying. They have both arranged for Chasuble to christen them "Ernest" later that evening. Jack tells Algernon to go, but he refuses.
How It All Goes Down
Jack and Algernon join Gwendolen and Cecily inside the country house. The women tell the men their "Christian names are still an insuperable barrier. Lady Bracknell arrives, and Gwendolen informs her of her engagement. Lady Bracknell tells Jack that he may not speak any more to her daughter. Jack introduces Cecily to Lady Bracknell, and Algernon says that he is engaged to her.
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Only when Lady Bracknell discovers Cecily has a large personal fortune does she give her consent for their marriage. However, Jack claims that, as his ward, Cecily may not marry without his consent until age He declines to give the necessary consent. He says that he suspects Algernon of being untruthful. He recounts this afternoon's events, in which Algernon impersonated Jack's brother.
Jack tells Lady Bracknell that if she consents to his marriage with Gwendolen, he will consent to Cecily's with Algernon. Lady Bracknell refuses and tells Gwendolen to get ready for the train. Chasuble enters and announces that he is prepared for the christenings. Lady Bracknell refuses to allow Algernon to be baptized, and Jack tells Chasuble that the christenings will not be necessary any more.
Chasuble says he will leave, and mentions that Miss Prism is waiting for him. Lady Bracknell asks to see Miss Prism. When she enters, she goes pale upon seeing Lady Bracknell, who accuses her of kidnapping a baby boy from her house 28 years ago. Under Jack's questioning, Miss Prism reveals that she accidentally left the baby in a handbag on the Brighton railway line.
Jack leaves excitedly. Jack returns with this very handbag.
Jack tells her he was the baby. Lady Bracknell informs Jack that he is the son of her sister, making him Algernon's older brother. Jack asks Lady Bracknell what his original name was. She says he was named after his father; after locating his name under the Army Lists, they learn his full name is Ernest John Moncrieff. Jack tells Lady Bracknell that he has realized, for the first time in his life, "the vital Importance of Being Earnest.
What major disagreement do Gwendolen and Cecily have? In spite of the women's initial friendly relationship. How is Victorian education mocked? One example of the way education is mocked can be seen in the character of Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell's belief that the members of the upper class are more educated that the lower class is based purely on status.
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She disapproves of educating There are many ideas to consider. I think manners and sincerity are important. The major target of Wilde's scathing social criticism is the hypocrisy that society creates. In an age of change, their work, as well as Wilde's plays, encouraged people to think about the artificial barriers that defined society and enabled a privileged life for the rich at the expense of the working class. American writer, Edith Wharton, was also writing about the lifestyles of the rich during the same period. Her novels, such as Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, or The House of Mirth, explore the concepts of wealth and privilege at the expense of the working class on the American side of the Atlantic.
Although the themes in The Importance of Being Earnest address Victorian social issues, the structure of the play was largely influenced by French theatre, melodrama, social drama, and farce. Wilde was quite familiar with these genres, and borrowed from them freely. A play by W. Lestocq and E. Robson, The Foundling, is thought to be a source of Earnest, and it was playing in London at the time Wilde was writing Earnest. The Foundling has an orphan-hero, like Jack Worthing in Wilde's play.
A farce is a humorous play using exaggerated physical action, such as slapstick, absurdity, and improbability. It often contains surprises where the unexpected is disclosed. The ending of Earnest, in which Jack misidentifies Prism as his unmarried mother, is typical of the endings of farces. Farces were usually done in three acts and often included changes of identity, stock characters, and lovers misunderstanding each other.
Wearing mourning clothes or gobbling food down at times of stress are conventions that can be traced to early farces. Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen also strongly influenced Wilde. Wilde also attended Hedda Gabler and Ghosts, two other plays by Ibsen. While in prison, Wilde requested copies of Ibsen plays.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST at The Blue Room - Lincoln Performing Arts Centre
The theatre manager of the St. James where Earnest opened, George Alexander, asked Wilde to reduce his original four-act play to three acts, like more conventional farces. Wilde accomplished this by omitting the Gribsby episode and merging two acts into one. In doing so, he maneuvered his play for greater commercial and literary response.
Marriage plots and social comedy were also typical of s literature. Jane Austen and George Eliot were both novelists who used the idea of marriage as the basis for their conflicts. Many of the comedies of the stage were social comedies, plays set in contemporary times discussing current problems.