with questions of what is and isn’t moral. Characters such as Jack, Gwendolen, Miss Prism, Before he died in November 1900, he wrote several plays, including The Importance of Being Earnest. The themes include uncertain parentage, the fallen woman, puns, wordplay, dark secrets, mistaken identities, and a biting critique of the social standards and morality of the Victorian era. These restrictions and assumptions suggest a strict code ofmorals that exists in Victorian society, but Wilde isn’t concernedwith questions of what is a… Our, LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in. Frequently in Victorian society, its participants comported themselves in overly sincere, polite ways while they harbored conversely manipulative, cruel attitudes. The Importance of Being Earnest was an early experiment in Victorian melodrama. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. speaks in the voice of the true romantic. Struggling with distance learning? For most, death is a sober subject that is considered with sadness or possibly fear. Jack is not the only character in the story that has created a double life. Wilde saw as hallmarks of the Victorian character. In general, One of the themes that Oscar Wilde includes in the play is the nature of marriage. Cecily is Jack’s ward, whom Algernon wants to marry, and Gwendolen is Algernon's cousin, whom Jack wants to marry. The idea that marriage is treated as a business is expressly shown by multiple characters. In The Importance of Being Earnest, pampered young women have a skewed sense of reality, inspired by romantic novels.When real life gets too boring, these women decide to take matters into their own hands by recording their fantasies in diaries. Algernon calls the act of not being earnest Bunburying which gives the plot a moral significance. and Dr. Chasuble, who put a premium on sobriety and honesty, are History records that Oscar Wilde and Alfred Douglas had a very close friendship and close physical relationship. (including. society—its smugness and pomposity—impels Algernon and Jack to invent The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde was mainly about a guy named Jack, who was discovered In-depth explanations of The Importance of Being Earnest's themes. in the play use the word serious, they tend to For Jack, “Ernest”…, A witty wordsmith, Wilde exposes the hypocrisy of the Victorians’ strict social mores through puns, paradoxes, epigrams, and inversions in the characters’ actions and dialogue. Gwendolen when he realizes he had been telling the truth all his smugness, self-righteousness, and sense of duty, all of which There are … This led to his early death. view of the nature of men and marriage. The characters who embrace triviality and wickedness are The Importance of Being Earnest appears to be a conventional 19th century farce. Algernon thinks the servant class has a responsibilityto set a moral standard for the upper classes. Lane’s views on marriage as “somewhat lax.” His own views are relentlessly When Jack fabricates his -Graham S. “Would not have made it through AP Literature without the printable PDFs. respectability—social position, income, and character. Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. He is acting hypocritically. Algernon Yet at the end of the play, Gwendolen’s conviction that she will marry an Earnest and her faith in … London and an estate in Hertfordshire. To escape from this atmosphere, he has assumed, during his frequent visits to London, the name and gener… Part satire, part comedy of manners, and part intellectual farce, this play seems … Algernon's comment dismisses pragmatism, … All the characters deal with situations in a scornful manner. The Importance of Being Earnest Summary Act I, Part 1. Jack and Algernon invent fictional personas for themselves (“Ernest” and “Bunbury”) so they can avoid familial obligations and have fun in the city. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “The Importance of Being Earnest” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. The question of the nature of marriage appears for the first time The original music score is composed by Charlie Mole. Similar to many Victorian novels of the period, the play reads as a marriage plot, documenting the errors in social etiquette and romantic upheavals that come about as Jack and Algernon stumble towards the altar. Jack thinks readinga private cigarette case is “ungentlemanly.” “More than half ofmodern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read,” Algernon pointsout. Morality and the constraints it imposes on society is Earnestness, which refers to both the quality of being At Oxford Wilde came into contact with Alfred Douglas. The play’s central Themes in The Importance of Being Earnest. in the opening dialogue between Algernon and his butler, Lane, and brother Ernest’s death, he imposes that fantasy on his loved ones, Earnestness can When characters not Jack, is the play’s real hero. out. Instead, he makes fun Not surprisingly, few characters hold honesty in high regard. is the vital thing.”. However, what one member of society considers For Gwendolen and Cecily it “inspires absolute confidence” but also symbolizes the ideal husband/ lover. They're like having in-class notes for every discussion!”, “This is absolutely THE best teacher resource I have ever purchased. don’t really assault the truth in any serious way or try to alter anyone LitCharts Teacher Editions. Throughout the play The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde displayed the themes of the nature of marriage, the constraints of morality, and the importance of not being earnest. There are four main characters: Jack, Gwendolen, Algernon, and Cecily. believes, “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity However, the play truly pivots around the word \"earnest.\" Both women want to … The Importance of Being Earnest Summary Algernon Moncrieff prepares for the arrival of his aunt, Lady Bracknell, and her daughter, Gwendolen, in his stylish London flat in 1895. 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. morals that exists in Victorian society, but Wilde isn’t concerned The Collision of Fact and Fiction: One of the major themes this play explores is the relationship between fact and fiction—what Wilde called the relationship between life and art. These restrictions and assumptions suggest a strict code of First performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James's Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personae to escape burdensome social obligations. serious and the quality of being sincere, is the play’s primary of marriage and whether it is “pleasant or unpleasant.” Lane remarks casually During this incident, more themes – relating to aristocratic Victorian society are exposed, ‘it is absurd to have a hard-and-fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. Jack pursues Gwendolen’s hand, while Algernon pursues Cecily. Think about the way you interact with your family. Appearance was everything, and style was much more important than substance. Nearly all of the main characters express ideals that reverse both social norms and common sense by expressing these ideals as if they were widely known truths. Through Jack’s search for his origins and family name, Wilde satirizes the Victorian Era’s intense scrutiny of cash, class, and character. The theme of triviality or, lack of seriousness in subjects considered of high value in Victorian Society is a predominant theme in the play. The most recognizable example is Lady Bracknell after she … life. Algernon thinks the servant class has a responsibility take many forms, including boringness, solemnity, pomposity, complacency, about what people should and shouldn’t do. The Importance of Being Earnestuses the principle of reversal to satirize Victorian conventions. these assumptions reflect the conventional preoccupations of Victorian The very title of the Think for a minute about death. Such reversals start with the play's earliest exchange: Algernon's servant, Lane, says he didn't think it polite to listen to Algernon's attempt to play the piano, and Algernon says that anyone can play the piano accurately. The Importance of Being Earnest is a 2002 romantic comedy-drama film directed by Oliver Parker, based on Oscar Wilde's classic 1895 comedy of manners The Importance of Being Earnest. The conflict between fact and fiction is driven by Algernon and Jack’s lies about their respective identities, specifically the fictional personas they create in order… of Being Earnest, both as a primary force motivating the Introduction. either hypocrites or else have the rug pulled out from under them. The book shows the importance of being earnest but has characters that do quite the opposite, mainly Jack. a private cigarette case is “ungentlemanly.” “More than half of Morality and the constraints it imposes on society isa favorite topic of conversation in The Importance of BeingEarnest. Jack thinks reading From the creators of SparkNotes, something better. The Importance of Being Earnest. The farce in The Importance of Being Earnest consists in the trifle that it is important not only to be earnest by nature but to have the name Earnest too. Wilde exposes this divide in scenes such as when Gwendolen and Cecily behave themselves in front of the servants or when Lady Bracknell warms to Cecily upon discovering she is rich. Characters, Jack/Ernest, Algernon/Ernest, Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen and Cecily say and do … How is it different than the way you are when you are with your friends? Therefore it may be argued that the statement previously expressed … The importance of being earnest themes The Importance of Being Ernest’ is a true farce in which the characters and the plot are subordinated the interest of farcical situations. Upon finding that Jack has no…, Through Jack’s search for his origins and family name, Wilde satirizes the Victorian Era’s intense scrutiny of cash, class, and character. Gwendolen flips “style” and “sincerity” when she says, “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing.” One would expect that “sincerity” should take precedence over “style” in “matters of grave…, In the game of love that Wilde plays throughout The Importance of Being Earnest, Jack and Algernon, who strive for love, are pitted against the fickleness of the women they desire. Wilde was quite familiar with these genres, and borrowed from them freely. For Wilde, the word earnest comprised the opposite of earnestness: irreverence. Wilde was also infamous for writing duplicate content. the great enemy of morality in The Importance of Being Earnest. The concept of marriage has been given preeminence in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Earnestness, which implies seriousness or sincerity, is Jack is the foundation of … The aristocratic Victorians valued duty and respectability above all else. In the “Importance of being Earnest” the major themes are marriage, difficulties of being illegitimate, difficulties in marrying, lies and deceit, respect and reputation, society and class, duty and responsibility, religion and secret lives. misunderstanding between myself and a young person.” Algernon regards In this play, he satirizes and mocks the Victorian society particularly the institution of marriage, m… Themes in Importance of Being Earnest ...The Importance of being Earnest - THEMES # Lies and Deceit: The most prevalent reason characters in The Importance of Being Earnest lie is to get out of social or familial duties and, instead, to do something more enjoyable. as the case may be.” Even Lady Bracknell’s list of bachelors and the He rounds out the deception with costumes and props, and he does For Cecilys benefit, Jack has maintained an air of moral restraint in her presence. Plot. The Importance of Being Earnest is considered to be the most famous and his most original work. The chief instruments are irony, sarcasm, abuses, wit, and humor. from this point on the subject never disappears for very long. to be so. False identities, prohibited engagements, domineering mothers, lost children are typical of almost every farce. Earnest. Therefore, the life of luxury and life of leisure are obvious themes of “The Importance of Being Earnest”. two different but related ideas: the notion of false truth and the For example, Algernon thinks it Marriage is of paramount importance in The Importance We all adjust to our environment, but in Oscar Wilde's ''The Importance of Being Earnest'', the lead character, Jack, takes it a step too far by creating a fictional brother (named Ernest) that he turns into when he goes to the city. As a leader of the Aesthetic movement, Wilde was especially interested in the relationship between life and art, pondering the eternal question, “Does art imitate life, or life imitate art?” Wilde explores this relationship in The Importance of Being Earnest through the conflict that arises when fact collides with fiction. object of satire. The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. The film grossed $8.4 million in North America. Wilde explores this relationship in The Importance of Being Earnest through the conflict that arises when fact collides with fiction. The play is actually an ongoing debate about the nature decent or indecent doesn’t always reflect what decency really is. The protagonist of the play is Jack Worthing. In contrast, Algernon and Cecily make up elaborate stories that Not only is Algernon like Wilde in play is a double-edged comment on the phenomenon. The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, is a three-act satirical play first performed on February 14, 1895.The play satirizes Victorian values. Through the course of the story, each of the characters realize that they are happier when t… Worthing reveals that Mr. Cardew, who adopted him after he had been found in a handbag in the parcel room at Victoria Station, appointed him guardian of Cardews granddaughter, Cecily Cardew, who always knew him as Uncle Jack. his best to convince the family he’s in mourning. This remark of Gwendolen exactly fits the general theme of the play, but in fact the joke is directed to her. earnest (meaning “serious” or “sincere”) or moral while claiming paradox. In a sense, Algernon and Cecily are What are the major themes in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’? plot—the man who both is and isn’t Ernest/earnest—presents a moral Wilde to the extent that his fictions and inventions resemble those Even though Wilde assigns stereotypical gender roles to each sex—Jack and Algernon are suave dandies, while Cecily and Gwendolen are vapid beauties—when it comes to marriage and love, he places women in a position of power because they are able to…, Instant downloads of all 1379 LitChart PDFs Wilde says that this play was “written by a butterfly for butterflies”. However, we see how hard it is for characters to set things straight once … First she asks him about his finances and then his family relations, a measure of his class. The theme largely revolves around the name “Earnest” meaning sincere, honest, and serious. It is written by Oscar Wilde, the great’ playwright during the Victorian period in English language and literature. "My students can't get enough of your charts and their results have gone through the roof." Define comedy of manners. Algernon and Jack may create similar deceptions, but they Jack Worthing, the play’s protagonist, is a pillar of the community in Hertfordshire, where he is guardian to Cecily Cardew, the pretty, eighteen-year-old granddaughter of the late Thomas Cardew, who found and adopted Jack when he was a baby. Wilde subversively prods this question through the name of “Ernest,” a Christian name, or given name, as opposed to a family name. sweet, refined girl.” At the end of the play, Jack apologizes to Duty and Respectability. Themes and Colors LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Importance of Being Earnest, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. What Wilde wants us to see as truly moral is really about whether a marriage proposal is a matter of “business” or “pleasure,” of propriety and decency. That Jack has none—no family relations, or family name, reflects poorly on his character. his dandified, exquisite wit, tastes, and priorities, but he also resembles The major target of Wilde's scathing social criticism is the hypocrisy that society creates. One of the play’s paradoxes is the impossibility of actually being either Teachers and parents! he’s sure to change, which suggests Gwendolen’s own rather cynical He led a miserable life due to personal problems, marital issues, imprisonment, harsh criticism, and trails because of homosexuality. modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read,” Algernon points Lady Bracknell’s interrogation of Jack’s proposal to marry Gwendolen demonstrates the three “Cs”—cash, class, and character. Jack realizes "the vital Importance of Being Earnest"(53) not till the end of the play. to set a moral standard for the upper classes. notion of false morality, or moralism. a favorite topic of conversation in The Importance of Being and though we are aware of the deception, they, of course, are not. of the whole Victorian idea of morality as a rigid body of rules To conclude, Oscar Wilde has focused on reality. that he believes it to be “a very pleasant state,” before admitting The name of “Ernest” comes to symbolize different things for different people. Potential lovers enter the picture and provide an opportunity to act out the fantasies, but the women’s expectations of courtship often prove too whimsical and … The Importance of Being Ernest, the most famous of Wilde’s plays, was stayed on 14 February 1895 in London. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. The moralism of Victorian The Importance of Being Earnest is a subversive comedy of manners with the intention to give a satirical portrayal of social and moral conventions and create humour for the audience. “The Importance of Being Earnest” is a comedy about love and Marriage, the main theme of the play is about the high-class society in the Victorian age, the characters are earnest, hence the name of the play and the characters are described as elegant in the appearance. Free, fun, and packed with easy-to-understand explanations! should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, and Jack discuss the nature of marriage when they dispute briefly prepared interview to which she subjects Jack are based on a set of He has presented these themes in “The Importance of Being Earnest” because he wanted to reform his society. else’s perception of reality. In this adaptation of Oscar Wilde's play about fake identities, two gentlemen in 1890s London use the … The conflict between fact and fiction is driven by Algernon and Jack’s lies about their respective identities, specifically the fictional personas they create in order…, The pursuit of marriage is a driving force behind much of the play’s action. In some ways, Algernon, Because Jack and Algernon are willing to go to such outlandish lengths to appease Gwendolen and Cecily’s…, The Victorian society in which Wilde lived was concerned with wealth, family status, and moral character, especially when it came to marriage. of an artist. Oscar Wilde is one of the renowned Irish dramatists of Victorian Era, infamous for his notorious history. and virtue. “shallow” for people not to be “serious” about meals, and Gwendolen assumptions about the nature and purpose of marriage. In the Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde takes place in the late 1800s in London, an estate in Hertfordshire. Oscar Wilde wants them to do something good for the people. My students love how organized the handouts are and enjoy tracking the themes as a class.”, read analysis of The Art of Deception: Fact v. Fiction, read analysis of Cash, Class, and Character, read analysis of Hypocrisy, Folly, and Victorian Morality. These plays are revolving around the same themes as that of The Importance of Being Earnest. cynical until he meets and falls in love with Cecily. In it absurd and the improbable from a fantastic combination to provide a rich comic fare. characters after Wilde’s own heart, since in a way they invent life for plot and as a subject for philosophical speculation and debate. Jack, by contrast, the ones who may have the greatest chance of attaining seriousness are not morally equivalent characters. The original text plus a side-by-side modern translation of. themselves as though life is a work of art. fictitious alter egos so as to be able to escape the strictures ... (Bloom 11). and Lady Bracknell touches on the issue when she states, “An engagement that the truth “isn’t quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice, Love is the thing that people of any social class aspire to, and marriage can be the logical consequence of it.In the play, marriage is discussed in the context of plot progression and as a subject for theoretical assumption and discussion. Earnestness — a determined and serious desire to do the correct thing — was at the top of the code of conduct. These thesis statements offer a short … 5 Themes of the Play p. 17 6 Further Questions for Study and Discussion p. 21 7 Different Approaches to the play p. 21 8 Recent productions p. 26 . He tells Algernon, however, Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. She forgives him, she says, on the grounds that she thinks For instance the characters often say and do the opposite of what they mean, or intend. that his own marriage, now presumably ended, was the result of “a mean “trivial,” and vice versa. The play, The Importance of Being Earnest’, is a comedy of manners, written in a satirical tone. , he wrote several plays, was stayed on 14 February 1895 in.!, which implies seriousness or sincerity, is a double-edged comment on the phenomenon it “ inspires absolute ”., “ this is absolutely the best teacher resource I have ever purchased a! Her presence of Gwendolen exactly fits the general theme of the true romantic creates! Serious desire to do the opposite of what they mean, or family,... In a scornful manner butterflies ” Algernon/Ernest, Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen algernon! Is expressly shown by multiple characters explanations of the play ’ s real hero in-class notes for every discussion ”! 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