Ans. Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Earnest’ lends itself to quite a few themes both by suggestion and by implication. The play is built on a pun and the plot turns on a misunderstanding over the name Emest, At the lighter comical level, the theme of the play stresses upon the importance of the name ‘Emest’ Much of the complications of the plot and its final resolution depends upon fictitious character ‘Ernest’ who gains flesh and blood and a lease of life towards the end. The Importance of Being Earnest
1. Jack Worthing, the hero of the play perforce invents a wicked brother living in London under the name ‘Ernest’. He goes to Londen under the excuse of meeting his brother but his real propose is to seek pleasure there. In London, he falls in love with Gwendolen, the daughter of lady Brecknell and the niece of his friend Algernon.
Gwendolen falls for Jack taking a fancy for his name ‘Ernest’ Jack’s ward in the country, Cecily Cardew, has a heady attraction towards Jack’s wicked brother Ernest, So Jack decides to kill his imaginary brother ‘Ernest’ to avoid unnecessary complications. But Jack’s friend Algernon goes to Jack’s country home under the guise of Jack’s brother ‘Ernest’ to win the love of Cecily, the young ward of Jack. When Jack returns to the country, morning the death of his brother.
‘Ernest he is shocked to find Algernon courting Cecil posing as ‘Ernest’. Gwendolen who comes to the country hone of Jack becomes surprised to learn that her lover ‘Ernest’ has been engaged to Cecily. This leads to a quarrel between the two young ladies. Finally, when they meet their respective lovers, they come to know that there is no ‘Ernest as such and both of them have been taken in for a ride by their suitors.
Through they become angry with their suitors, soon they forgive them. As both the ladies are keen on marrying only ‘Ernest’, Jack and Algernon even go to the extent of getting themselves christened ‘Ernest’ with the help of Dr. Chasuble, the parish-priest of Jack. But before confusion is confounded further. Lady Bracknell’s inquiry of Miss Prism, the governess of Cecily, reveals the truth that Jack is the long-lost child of Mrs. Moncrieff, the sister of Lady Bracknell.
The importance of being earnest essay
the importance of being earnest
Further, Jack finds out that he and Algernon are the sons of late Majer General Ernest John Moncrieff. So he finds himself to be a natural ‘Emest’. As Jack and Algernon are found to be Ernest, they can marry Givendolen and Cecily respectively. Thus the importance of being ‘Ernest’ is realized both by Jack and Algy.
2. If we remember the falt that ‘The Importance of Being Ernest is a “Comedy of manners we can find that the theme, in essence, is a satire on the so-called earnestness, That is, the play intends to hit at the Victorian solemnity or a false seriousness which results in priggishness, hypocrisy, and so-called piety. Unlike Bernard’s show, who uses his iconoclastic ideas, Wilde uses his wit as an ironic counterpoint to the absurdity of the action.
Jack Worthing, the hero of the play and his friend Algernon having double identities and leading a frivolous life are the types of Victorian gentlemen of the time who led a life of pleasure and case by using their wealth and social position. They all had two faces, one public and the other private. Behind the mask of Jacks and Algernon’s, there were ‘Ernests’ and ‘Bunburys’.
Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew are as frivolous as their suitors. They do not choose there life partners for their personality or character but for their name ‘Ernest which sends vibration in their hearts. Through their characters, Wilde satirizes how noble nations of love become topsy turvy in the hands of aristocratic young ladies with foolish fads. Through the character of lady Bracknell’s.
Wilde satirizes the uncompromising arrogance and class-consciousness of his time. Victorian Education also comes in for severe criticism through the remarks of Lady Bracknell. Dr. Chasuble’s character is used to expose the ignorance and hypocrisy of the clergy. Miss Bee is used as a symbol of false modesty and pretentious knowledge. Thus we find that ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is a trivial play intended for serious people.
Essay on the importance of being earnest
3. ‘Discovering the past’ is one of the favorite themes of Wilde’s comedies and The Importance of Being Earnest’ is no exception to this-Jack, the hero is blue-blooded. But he has no social status as he is a foundling brought up by his guardian, late Thomas Cardew. He is not able to marry Gwendolen Fairfax, the daughter of Lady Bracknell’s who does not like to make “an alliance with a railway parcel.”
But by a strange tourist of events, Jack is found to be a child lost long ago by Lady Bracknell’s sister Mrs. Moncrieff through the absent-mindedness of Miss Prism who left with the child in a perambulator, Lady Bracknell had placed the child in her handbag and the manuscript of her novel in the perambulator. Later she had left the handbag containing the child in the cloak-room of Victoria Railway Station. This handbag was given by mistake to Thomas Cardew.
Thomas Cardew brought up Jack and made him the guardian of his grand-daughter Cecily Cardew by his will. Further, Jack also finds that his Christian name is ‘Ernest’ as he is the son of Major General Earnest John Moncrieff. Algernon is found to be his own blood- brother. These discoveries enable Wilde to resolve the complications of the plot by making Jack and Algernon marry Gwendolen and Cecily who would marry none but the ‘Ernest’.
4. ‘Predetermination’ is found to unfold itself as another theme of the play, The Importance of Being Earnest’. Jack invents a fictitious brother by name ‘Ernest’. As he finds that his fictitious identity is creating complications by making his word Cecily feel attracted to ‘Ernest’, he tries to kill his imaginary brother ‘Ernest but fails as Algernon appears in the guise of ‘Ernest’ to pay court to Cecily.
Jack is not able to exterminate ‘Ernest’ because he is predestined to be ‘Ernest likewise, Algernon is also predestined to be ‘Ernest and the blood-brother of Jack. Through Jack, in the beginning, says that he has a wicked brother by name Ernest, later on, he vows that he has no kind of any brother whatsoever and had none and would not like to have any in the future; in the end, it is found that he is really on ‘Ernest’ and the brother of Algernon.
As Cecily Cardew is predestined to marry an ‘Ernest’ she falls in love with him even before seeing him. Further, she likes the wickedness and frivolity of ‘Ernest’ the supposed younger brother of the guardian Jack Worthing. So, in reality, she is coupled with the wicked and frivolous Algernon who also proves to be an ‘Ernest’ in the end. Likewise, Gwendolen is also predestined to marry Ernest’ in the end.
Likewise, Gwendolen is also predestined to marry an ‘Ernest’ and she falls in love with him the moment her cousin Algy tells her that he has a friend by name ‘Ernest’. Despite her mother’s objections to her marrying Jack, finally, she can marry him as he is found to be a natural ‘Ernest. Cecily and Gwendolen call each other ‘sister when they first meet.
Through they quarrel over the confusion caused by the identity of ‘Emest, in the end, they marry the Emest brothers namely Tack and Algy respectively and thus become ‘sister’s-in-law.
5. A close study of The Importance of Being Ernest’ will enable the readers to trace the theme of ‘innocence’ conveyed through its pages like Dorian Gray, the protagonist of his novel, Oscar Wilder after his satanic plays like ‘Salome’ felt that he had gone too far in the pursuit of evil beauty, and began to long for his lost innocence.
The chief product of this reaction was The Importance of Being Ernest’, It captures perfectly the world of childlike innocence; for the characters who fill the play are babies who are playing at life, When Jack asks Dr. Chasuble to Christen him, the canon offers in christening him at five in the afternoon along with the newborn Jenkins twins. At the Jack says. ‘Oh, 1 1 don’t see much fun in being christened along with ciber babies. It would be childish.
Examine the various times of The Importance of Being Ernest
the importance of being earnest
‘ In these lines, it is clear, Jack refers to himself as a baby. And he is a twenty-nine-year-old baby who never really grew up. The other characters in the play are also babies. Though physically adults mentally and psychologically they are still in the paradise of childhood. There they are innocently and joyfully imitating the behavior of real adults.
When Jack and Algy are rejected for their deception by Gwendolen and Cecily towards the end of Act li, they were quarreling, but it soon deteriorates into a fight over who is to eat the muffins left behind by the two girls. Jack snatches the muffin-tray from Algy, but Algy snatches it back and makes short work of the muffins. This is not the way adults behave. It is a fight between two informs.
Their attempt to marry is the attempt of two babies who playfully decided to behave as people in the adult world do. The entire play creates the impression of a group of children who have been leamed together to imitate the behavior of the grownups in the real world. Thus in The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wide, without going back to the fairy-tale framework, has captured perfectly the world of childlike innocence, ‘a world where no one can harm or be harmed’.
6. The learned critic Christopher S. Nassar points out that the play The Importance of Being Ernest is built on the theme of ‘nonsense. The play being a force, by turning everything upside down in the dialogue and making reality stand on its head, Wilde creates a hilarious nonsensical world that returns us to the innocence of childhood.
Jack declares in Act I that persons rely on should be allowed to decide for himself what his height ought to be as though height were a matter of individual’s choice rather than heredity. Algy in Act Il says that he has to be in London on Monday afternoon because of a bus ness appointment he wishes to the miss-a absurd statement and the exact opposite of what a person would have normally made.
Summary of the importance of being earnest by Oscar Wilde
In Act I Lady Bracknell thunders, “I must say, Algernon, that I think il is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or die. I should be much obliged if you would ask Mr. Bunbury, from me, to be kind enough not to love a relapse on Saturday, for I rely on you to arrange my music for me’. What is absurd about Lady Bracknell’s statement, of course, is that she assumes Bunbury’s health to be completely under his control.
When Jack sadly announces the death of his brother ‘Emest’ in Act II to Miss Prism, She replies. What a lesson for him! I trust he will profit by it.’ It is absurd to say that a dead man will learn a lesson from his mistakes and reform himself. By making his characters say the opposite of what is normal or expected, Wilde’s reduces the dialogue of his play to hilarious nonsense and transports us into a paradise of innocence.
Just as a blooming and fragrant bud of a flower unfolds itself by its several petals, The Importance of Being Ernest unfolds itself into several themes enabling the readers to gain a wider perspective of the ageless comedy which has become a classic of all times.