Free Study Guide: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde - Free BookNotes|
Downloadable / Printable Version
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST: PLOT SYNOPSIS
The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy For Serious People
Meaning of the Title:
Earnest is a play on words of the character name Ernest. While the name Ernest inspires one to believe a person may be trustworthy and honest, in fact the character Jack/Ernest is deceitful and dishonest. Ironically Jack realizes that, despite his efforts, his whole life has been truthful; he now knows the “Vital Importance of Being Earnest.”
The play is set in England in the 1890s. Act I is in London and Acts II & III take place in the country (Hertfordshire).
Social Comedy; farce.
Jack Worthing, the main character. He is known as "Ernest" by his acquaintances in London.
Lady Bracknell (Gwendolen's mother).
Satirical; comical; light.
Point of View/Tense:
First person; present tense
The exposition of the play, Act I, introduces the main character, John Worthing-“Ernest” and presents the major conflict: he wants to marry aristocratic Gwendolen but her mother does not approve. Furthermore, she loves him because of his name.
The climactic moment is when the women confront the men about what they have discovered by talking-they can not both be Ernest Worthing. The men confess and the women retreat.
In Act II Algernon complicates the conflict because he arrives at Jack’s country house and calls himself “Ernest.”
Satire of the upper classes; Triviality of Marriage; Victorian Manners; Importance of Wealth/ Life of Leisure
Chasuble; Miss Prism; Ernest / Earnest
Name/ Relationship Facts:
Algernon Moncrieff is Lady Bracknell’s nephew and Gwendolen’s cousin. He pretends to be Ernest in the country, and loves Cecily. Jack Worthing is Cecily’s guardian and pretends to be Ernest in the city. He loves Gwendolen.
-The story opens in the city, in Algernon’s flat.
- Lady Bracknell will not allow Jack to marry Gwendolen because he was found in Victoria Station as an infant.
- Gwendolen believes that Jack’s name is Ernest - Cecily believes that Algernon’s name is Ernest
- When Jack was an infant, Miss Prism accidentally placed him in a hand-bag and her novel in the baby carriage.
- Jack is really Algernon’s brother; his real name is actually Ernest after all.
- Everyone is allowed to marry
All Content Copyright©TheBestNotes. All Rights Reserved.
No further distribution without written consent.
115 Users Online | This page has been viewed 6565 times
This page was last updated on 5/9/2017 8:50:33 AM
Cite this page:
TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on The Importance of Being Earnest".
. 09 May 2017