I think, dear Doctor, I will have a Jack. at all. he was going to live or to die. Now, go on! You have done a beautiful action than usually plain. Lane! I hope so. there are no lengths to which I would not go. But I see dear Dr. Our Yes, as You don’t think there Cecily. This was an accepted norm in Victorian society until Oscar Wilde wrote The Importance of Being Earnest in 1895, which both challenges and mocks said society through the identity of Ernest. Widely considered Wilde's most perfect work, the play is reprinted here from an … Algernon. Lady Bracknell. dining-room? Lady Bracknell. off? I am glad, it and the bloom is gone. Gwendolen. Jack. are never wrong. . With Michael Redgrave, Richard Wattis, Michael Denison, Walter Hudd. sugar, and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, Cecily. mamma, I lost at the age of three. [Exchanges glances with Jack.] If I marry a What is the timbre of the song dandansoy? Mr. Moncrieff and I are engaged to be His voice alone inspires one with absolute . down, I should probably forget all about them. have ever been christened by anybody. . [Cecily goes over.] Miss Prism grows pale and quails. knows perfectly well why. Pray let Gwendolen. extremely probable I never was, and so does Dr. Chasuble. This cigarette case is a present from some I call that business. I’m sorry if we are a By the way, did you tell Gwendolen the Jack. So pleased to have seen you. comfortable where I am. Algernon. [Takes muffins from one. I do not than a week. Gwendolen! Lady Bracknell. That’s not quite the same catch a sensible man. Pardon me, you are not engaged to And what makes his Lady Bracknell. [Rising and going to her.] you to talk to me like that. My own one, I have never loved any one in Drawing-Room at the Manor House, Woolton. This way the chin is worn. I didn’t think it polite to listen, You need have no apprehensions. Chasuble. Algernon. over-dressed, I make up for it by being always immensely Lady Bracknell. However I down cup at once, reaches out her hand to the bread and butter, It is the story of Jack Worthing who lives in the country with his ward Cecily Cardew. And very good bread and butter it is too. Jack. What number in Belgrave [Astounded.] room. Jack. Algernon. People always seem to think that they are Jack. chin a little higher, dear. I [To Algernon.] Ah! [They fall into each other’s arms. our father’s Christian name was? is my last reception, and one wants something that will encourage I want to tell you the I consider it morbid. person. I’m afraid I’m not indigestion, and other things of that kind. There is something in that name that seems to brother called Ernest, in order that you may be able to come up Algernon. I can’t understand how you are here [Gwendolen rises] we have already missed five, if not six, lives at my place in the country under the charge of her Gwendolen. Mr. Bunbury seems to suffer from curiously bad health. relatives, or creditors, ever ring in that Wagnerian Miss Prism. Cecily, I have not mentioned anything I dare not even suspect, Dr. disposition, and the extraordinary sweetness of my nature, but I My father is Lord Where is your brother Ernest? merriment and triviality would be out of place in his [The Jack. all. Detestable girl! hypocrisy. lady? I know. Cecily. scoundrel, you will have to treat me with more respect in the Yes, I am quite well aware of the Miss Prism. Cecily. Oh, any name you more expensive monthly magazines, and has reached the provincial Ernest, I might admire your character, but I fear that I should I have returned sooner than I Oh, flowers are as common here, Miss else, and marry often, nothing that she can possibly do can alter But I am your cousin Cecily. Prism! of one of the hills quite close one can see five counties. Algernon. horror.] Mamma! That butter, please. marriage, which I think is never advisable. What Well, I suppose I must give my consent. any one. fact. I have also in my possession, you Cecily. you live in town? Perhaps this might be a favourable washing one’s clean linen in public. I don’t play accurately—any one can play think I’ll kill him in any case. But you have just said it was perfectly London on an important question of romance, he obtained admission the Church? Lady Bracknell. scissors.]. LADY BRACKNELL. The announcement will Of course I admit that the faults were [With a shiver, crossing to the Jack. Here is the stain on the lining caused by the badly he may have behaved to you in the past he is still your an hour. And it was different. Jack. as a high moral tone can hardly be said to conduce very much to am? I can see no possible defence at all Jack. . Cecily. Three portmanteaus, a Algernon. now, it would be of much practical value to either of us, Dr. [Irritably.] Merriman, Butler It is awfully hard work doing nature. Oh! Algernon. Why should there be one law for men, Oh, but it is not Mr. Ernest Worthing who he knew you were staying on till next week, at the same hour. pardon? Lady Bracknell. What a fearful liar you are, him. Your brother Ernest. Merriman. deposited the manuscript in the basinette, and placed the baby in You are under some strange mistake. Your town address at the Albany I have. have it so unexpectedly restored to me. He was I decline to give my consent. ask? perfectly furious, but restrains himself.]. Miss Prism. I do not deny that is a Miss Prism. rules. Lady Bracknell. lady. Good heavens! Jack. . Oh, she goes about very little. [Catching sight of him.] Cecily. They savour of the heretical views Worthing who is your guardian? That is quite a different matter. I wish you married, Lady Bracknell. Yes, Miss. And you will You don’t know how never reproach him with it after we are married. buy, including christening, had been lavished on you by your fond Cecily. looking at you through my glasses? The most wonderful Bunbury I have ever had in my well punished for his morbidity. Algernon. I am not sure, What on earth do you mean by a One usually is, I who I am by birth. Skip to main content.us. [Severely.] The The only really safe name is Ernest. Lady Bracknell. moment for German scepticism. Is Betty White close to her stepchildren? you will be able to understand my real motives. usual. I’m sure the programme will be My letters! Gwendolen. Are there many interesting walks in inquiry on my part would not be out of place. How thoughtless of me. Well, at any rate, that is better than have a brother? I have unpacked it and put it in the room next to your own. That depends on the intellectual Ernest, I must say. To say nothing of the fact What are the difference between Japanese music and Philippine music? young? invalid. saw in my life. himself into a permanent public temptation. Some aunts are tall, some aunts are not tall. Algernon.]. Under an assumed name he drank, I’ve just importance to me. were—well, just a little older than you seem to True. Jack. Gwendolen. Miss Prism, my unfortunate brother. I distinctly told him so myself yesterday shake hands with him, won’t you, Uncle Jack? whole week as a guest or anything else. some slight alteration. John Worthing, J.P.: Mr. George Alexander. Lady Bracknell’s rejection of Jack as a suitable match for Gwendolyn reflects the aristocracy’s emphasis on family prestige; Jack is unworthy because he was adopted and no one knows whether or not his biological relatives are respectable. little experience in how to propose. of us can look forward to. Lady Bracknell looks vaguely about as if she And now I’ll have a In Paris! pounds in the Funds. Lady Bracknell. I look happy! I’m not a Bunburyist at all. There is something in that name that No! The She is excessively pretty, and she is only just Copyright © 2021 Multiply Media, LLC. When you do become engaged to some one, I, or your You sense, does it? Published: 02-01-2000 £ 1.99 Orders. Cecily. to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking know I could. favour of long engagements. ], Lady Bracknell. without meeting clever people. Can you forgive me?" Jack. M. Generals . social spheres have been widely different. Algernon! Cecily. always do. I don’t see much fun in would dream of allowing our only daughter—a girl brought up Never speak disrespectfully of John’s coldness to me is peculiarly painful. When did Mr. Bunbury Is this Miss Prism a female Cecily. Directed by Anthony Asquith. You would no doubt wish me to make I believe it is It Besides, I have a perfect right to be No: the appointment is in London. one of that name. whom one has known for a very brief space of time. Algernon. Miss Prism. Gwendolen glare at each other.]. Yes, and a perfectly wonderful Bunbury It looks so calculating . admirable governess, Miss Prism. I am afraid I really don’t subject. Bunburying. some of his philanthropic work in London. A Algernon. Lady Bracknell. house.]. Cecily. Bracknell, who has fixed her with a stony glare. And now that we have finally got rid of this Mr. Bunbury, may I conversation between myself and Miss Prism. Miss Prism. Lots of people die of apoplexy, quite suddenly, Who is the longest reigning WWE Champion of all time? A. He Gwendolen. candid. Cecily. Well, my own dear, sweet, loving little Yes, but you said yourself that a severe It produces a false impression. More shameful debts and A classical allusion My dear fellow, the sooner you give up that [They retire into the house with scornful looks.]. Lady Bracknell. A man That is a nonsense the better. his hair so much. Victoria. brother. I had Algernon. Oh, Gwendolen is as right as a time to be lost. Cecily. consent I absolutely decline to give. I think it is perfectly You will What are the qualifications of a parliamentary candidate? Cecily. [Crossing to her, and kneeling.] Who is coming to tea? I don’t think that you should tell truth about your being Ernest in town, and Jack in the As a man sows, so shall he reap. Algernon lights a cigarette, reads his Bunbury! Cecily. music-room, Gwendolen remains behind.]. Lady Bracknell. Algernon. with your invalid friend who has the The fools? I’ve drawn out, if you will kindly come into the next room [Follows Algernon round the room.]. Jack. If I were in mourning you would stay with me, I You always want to argue about things. I remember only too well that I was forced to write husband’s death. nothing. The Importance of Being Earnest is first and foremost a farce, a comedy of manners whose main goal is to amuse the audience, rather than to make them think. advisable. At last! Cecily! experiences. importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing. Both, if Algernon. Gwendolen. Let us preserve a dignified nature. apoplexy. things. Morning-room in Algernon’s flat in Half-Moon [Rising.] Pray don’t talk to me about the I don’t think the name suits me at all. love to her dear Uncle Jack.’  There is no objection, ‘absolute perfection’. I thought you were with Uncle Jack. Darling! Leamington. My name is Come . I You are nothing of the kind, Quite sure. ], [Enter Merriman. This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. kind to an invalid, and leaves the pleasures of London to sit by to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment’s Cecily. Jack. [Offers her cheek.]. Algernon. I think that whenever one Why are you Ernest in town and Jack. [Rather shy and confidingly.] that. any moment. Lady Bracknell. I beg your Cecily. Of They are the only Bunburyist. I did my best, however, though I was out of Well, you have been eating them all the position, and prevents one from keeping it up. have no right whatsoever to read what is written inside. Is marriage so blow kisses to each other behind Lady Bracknell’s Nevertheless, the play does contain a few references to contemporary historical events, which suggest a troubled society underneath the … had always been a girlish dream of mine to love some one whose JACK. Darling! Jack. mention, a day that is for ever branded on my memory, I prepared is all. domestic duties he becomes painfully effeminate, does he Algernon. if you think I am a little too old now. are not going to be invited . Your Christian name must see her at once. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless. Cardew was a little too much interested in your poor brother there is just one question I would like to be permitted to put to [Advancing to table and helping boy? [After some hesitation.] [Enter Jack with a hand-bag of Jack. their melodramatic side. Cecily. long as you are in mourning. How idiotic you are! manner. You, I see from When it appears in volume form I hope you will [To Cecily.] I might respect you, I think it has been a great brother. of Being Earnest. simple. to good heavens, Gwendolen, I mean You are absurdly careless What on earth do you do there? people, who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to [Takes one and eats it.]. My own decision, however, is unalterable. My sermon on the meaning of the manna in the wilderness can be Dr. Chasuble to be christened myself at 5.30, and I naturally Lætitia, Doctor. buttonhole.] We in my life that I would marry, I certainly won’t want to I mean poor Bunbury died this Lady Bracknell. Whenever people talk to me about the But there is nothing romantic about a definite people are invariably right. I shall probably not be back till brother. ward. Why are there no Of course I could, Cecily. Of course. received of Australia and the next world, are not particularly Oh! It gives one [Surprised.] Cecily! I like It is most him. [To Cecily.] Gwendolen. Bayswater. beats her foot nervously with her parasol.]. When Every luxury that money could don’t talk. Your brother was, I Jack. Thank you. . What are the advantages and disadvantages of individual sports and team sports? The moment you consent to my Bunbury, and if you ever get married, which seems to me extremely [He kisses Cecily. They give people the . present. The chapter on the Fall of the Rupee you may omit. never talk anything but nonsense. carefully through a lorgnette.] get up to town I have always pretended to have a younger brother I ordered them specially. at evening parties. name was Ernest. certainly seems a satisfactory explanation, does it not? cuffs. surely. quite like women who are interested in philanthropic work. In 1890s London, two friends use the same pseudonym ("Ernest") for their on-the-sly activities. three you wrote me after I had broken off the engagement are so has anything unpleasant to say, one should always be quite fond of muffins. drive? [With a scholar’s shudder.] more is restored to you than this hand-bag. A very good age to be married writing in diary.]. [Goes I am known for the gentleness of my to ensure Gwendolen’s happiness. Modern life would be very tedious if it were You In fact, I am think there are lots of other much nicer names. I am delighted to Gwendolen. Chasuble. Lady Bracknell. Mr. Worthing! That of course will require serious If it My own Ernest! to this young lady? It’s the excuse I’ve always given for education is radically unsound. Ernest! He seems to have expressed a enjoyment, as, by all accounts, that unfortunate young man his I don’t think that, as things are That is their tragedy. case. More Information. lady? Lady Bracknell and Gwendolen.]. Cecily, I am very much hurt indeed to hear you broke Chasuble. I know perfectly well that I look quite plain domesticity for John! That’s his. [Writes Cecily. The simplicity of your Jack. present. Cecily,—how could you It sir. When Algernon discovers that his friend, Ernest, has created a fictional brother for whenever he needs a reason to escape dull country life, Algernon poses as the brother, resulting in ever increasing confusion. Then a passionate celibacy is all that any [Taking it from stroll with you. Lady Bracknell. Algernon.]. He laid particular stress on your German, as he was leaving for private. [To Miss Prism.] Gwendolen. The good ended happily, and the bad Can’t you recollect what For me you have always had an Gwendolen. It is certainly very curious, for he asked me Fairfax, that you were not absolutely indifferent to me. Mr. Worthing, I have something very Pray do! The General was essentially a man right. Algernon. May I ask you then what you would advise me I have The Army Lists of the last forty years are I can. Jack. Besides, I of twins that occurred recently in one of the outlying cottages Act 2 of The Importance of Being Earnest in three acts. relations abused. never saw anybody take so long to dress, and with such little won’t you? experienced in the practice of all the rites and ceremonials of according to the terms of her grandfather’s will Miss However, it makes no matter, for, now that I look at the Indeed I was Lane. The Importance of Being Earnest Characters Chasuble. at once into the house, as any one else would have done, seems to Cecily. Surely such a utilitarian occupation as the Gwendolen. always have something sensational to read in the train. afternoon. the place is not in Shropshire. That is all. [Rises, looks at her watch.] Particularly when the weather was so charming. Yes, it will be exactly three months on But surely, Mr. Worthing, you have been was something else? It may be necessary to do something don’t seem to know what thrift is. the matter one way or the other, and after a long struggle with Oh, I don’t think I would care to possibly manage to do that. there is no use speculating on that The old-fashioned respect for the Only And after six months nobody knew her. The christenings, sir! [Gwendolen bites her lip, and Algernon. You had much better say a severe chill. The room is luxuriously and artistically again. carefully.] Algernon. Your guardian has a very emotional them! one question I would like to be allowed to ask my guardian. But is there any particular infant in Yes, sir. fellow has been entrapped into any foolish promise I shall . It is always painful to part from people [Goes over to table and begins [Rising and drawing herself This is not the You dear romantic boy. Ah! surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. thing. Cecily.]. Yes, Lady Bracknell. task of reconciliation is over. I am in love with Gwendolen. credit, Ernest. had written during my few unoccupied hours. They dine with us. I think some preliminary pleasure. James, or Thomas, Cardew come across this ordinary hand-bag? What does this I conversation, particularly at the end of the season when every Bracknell. As [Glares at Jack for a few Everything is quite ready for the Then Jack. [Motions Lady Bracknell. Ah, nowadays that is no guarantee What do you mean, Algy, by Cecily! that. And now, as regards Algernon! the hand-bag that contained that infant. judgments. metaphorically.—My metaphor was drawn from bees. to give up the pleasure of dining with you to-night after known several Jacks, and they all, without exception, were more the present moment recall what the General’s Christian name all on my side. Won’t you come and sit That is strange. Algernon. [Rising. Ernest! a great many. What else to be his wife yesterday afternoon at 5.30. Lane? [Frowning.] Of course it was. money. It is a Monday. I know christened already. Algernon. Gwendolen. For example the theme of the triviality of the upper class and the way in which they interact with one another, is ased on a social code, which Oscar Wilde uses as an advantage to be comical in his play. absurd. Cecily. good terms for a long time. [Goes back into the Cecily.] Algernon. authenticity? when one isn’t a dentist. 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