Part 1: A Comedy of Manners: The Importance of Being Earnest

d the excerpt from Act I of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Jack. Oh, Gwendolen is as right as a trivet. As far as she is concerned, we are engaged. Her mother is perfectly unbearable. Never met such a Gorgon . . . I don’t really know what a Gorgon is like, but I am quite sure that Lady Bracknell is one. In any case, she is a monster, without being a myth, which is rather unfair . . . I beg your pardon, Algy, I suppose I shouldn’t talk about your own aunt in that way before you.

Algernon. My dear boy, I love hearing my relations abused. It is the only thing that makes me put up with them at all. Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die.

In traditional society, Algernon would be expected to defend his aunt. Instead, he speaks freely about his feelings toward family.

Which line from The Importance of Being Earnest is an example of a commentary on marriage
“The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I’ll certainly try to forget the fact.”

Read the excerpt from Act I of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Lady Bracknell. 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

imply that young women do not have a choice in their own marriages

Read the excerpt from Act I of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Jack. I am in love with Gwendolen. I have come up to town expressly to propose to her.

Algernon. I thought you had come up for pleasure? . . . I call that business.

Jack. How utterly unromantic you are!

Algernon pokes fun at the fact that marriage in his society often is based on social rules, not romance.

Read the excerpt from Act I of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Algernon. [Languidly.] I don’t know that I am much interested in your family life, Lane.

Lane. No, sir; it is not a very interesting subject. I never think of it myself.

Algernon. Very natural, I am sure. That will do, Lane, thank you.

Lane. Thank you, sir. [Lane goes out.]

an example of class differences

Read this sentence from a report on Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wilde’s humor points out that many people are not who they appear to be, which is a critique on the emphasis placed on appearance in society

well my name is earnest in town and jack in the country

Read the excerpt from Act I of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Lady Bracknell. Well, I must say, Algernon, that I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd. . . . I should be much obliged if you would ask Mr. Bunbury, from me, to be kind enough not to have a relapse on Saturday, for I rely on you to arrange my music for me. It is my last reception, and one wants something that will encourage conversation, particularly at the end of the season when every one has practically said whatever they had to say, which, in most cases, was probably not much.

her concern with a party instead of mr.bunburys health

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