The Importance of Being Earnest
Set in England during the late Victorian era, the play's humour derives in part from characters maintaining fictitious identities to escape unwelcome social obligations. It is replete with witty dialogue and satirizes some of the foibles and hypocrisy of late Victorian society. It has proved Wilde's most enduringly popular play. (From feedbooks.com)
The curriculet is being added to your library
These lines are called stage directions. They allow producers to let actors know how to play a scene. They also let the readers visualize the action.
The tone of this line is
The character Mr. Ernest Worthing is the protagonist of this play (the video below explains the literary terms protagonist and antagonist). He is also referred to as Jack, which may be confusing for a few pages but it will soon become clear why Ernest has two names. (This annotation contains a video)
The attitude about marriage so far in this play is
Lane appears to be Algernon's
Algernon thinks that Jack
Shropshire is a county in the West Midlands region of England, seen in red on the map. (This annotation contains an image)
Algernon is saying that literature depends upon
"Washing one's clean linen in public" uses what kind of literary device?
Algernon and Jack have both made up fake counterparts for themselves, and when they talk of "killing" them, they mean ridding themselves of the lies.
Gwendolen is Algernon’s cousin and Lady Bracknell’s daughter. Gwendolen is in love with Jack, whom she knows as Ernest.
Lady Bracknell is Algernon’s snobbish aunt and Gwendolen’s mother. Lady Bracknell's primary goal in life is to see her daughter marry well.
Remember, Bunbury is Algernon's non-existent friend. In this scene, he is clearly using his invented friend to get out of his social obligations.
Gwendolen Jack are now
Gwendolen is being very
Because Ernest is not Jack's name, Gwendolen's statement is an example of what literary device?
Lady Bracknell accues her daughter of
Lady Fairfax is saying that _______ in charge of Gwendolen's marriage.
What does Lady Bracknell seem mostly worried about in terms of Jack's suitability for Gwendolen?
A Gorgon is a dreadful, mythological, female monster. (This annotation contains an image)
Jack doesn't want to be _______ to his love interest.
Lane walks in only to
What does Algeron mean when he says he's going "Bunburying"?
Lane's response suggests that Algernon
Tone and mood are two elements of literature you should be familiar with. This video will explain more. (This annotation contains a video)
"That unfortunate young man his brother" is
This statement - that novels that end happily are depressing - is an example of irony. It is unexpected and contradictory that a happy ending should lead to depression. The following video will tell you more about irony: (This annotation contains a video)
What metaphor is Chasuble referring to?
Egeria was a divine consort and counselor of the Sabine second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius, to whom she imparted laws and rituals pertaining to ancient Roman religion. Her name is used as an alias for a female advisor or counselor. Laetitia was a minor Roman goddess of gaiety. Her name comes from the root word "laeta," meaning happy.
Algernon is playing Ernest Worthing.
Algernon is a toned-down version of a character type Wilde enjoyed writing: the dandy. A dandy is an effeminate, educated, dedicated follower of fashion, and a flouter of conventional male duty. Appearances are very important to Algernon, especially neckties and buttonhole flowers. He doesn’t hide his vanity from Cecily, confiding that "I never have any appetite unless I have a buttonhole first." In the image below, Gary Cooper (pictured with Audrey Hepburn) wears a buttonhole flower. (This annotation contains an image)
Please use the word "snare" in a sentence of your own.
The repetition of this phrase tells us it's important, and may even be related to the theme of the play. Read on to discover its deeper significance, but first watch the following video to learn more about identifying the theme of a text. (This annotation contains a video)
Christening, a ceremony associated with baptism, is something that is often done to babies, but adults can be christened too. (This annotation contains an image)
In your own words, please explain what Chasuble means by this.
What does Jack say that his brother's presence in the living room is absurd?
In this context, Bunburying most nearly means
A portmanteau is a piece of luggage seen below. Algernon, disguised as Ernest, has brought three. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this line tell us about Algernon? (This annotation contains an image)
The tone between Algernon and Jack here is
This statement seems nonsensical, but it is very fitting for a play that plays on absurdity the way this one does.
Remember, Cecily thinks Algernon is Ernest.
As she goes on talking to Algernon, Cecily seems more and more
The name Ernest is getting a lot of attention. The name Ernest is a homophone (a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning); its partner is the word earnest. Earnest means sincere, or truthful, and here you can see the irony of the name. Ernest is not earnest, but his name suggests he is.
Please explain how Cecily's statement here is ironic.
Please use the noun "ward" in a sentence of your own.
The conflict, which is humorous in nature rather than tragic, is now unfolding, as Gwendolen and Cecily "realize" that they are engaged to the same man. What makes this conflict humorous is that they aren't. Conflict is an essential part of literature, and this video will tell you more about the two different kinds of conflict: internal and external. (This annotation contains a video)
"When I see a spade I call it a spade" is
The mood between Gwendolen and Cecily is
Remember, the man Gwendolen spots is not the man Cecily knows as Ernest.
The conversation about muffins is meant to add a __________ tone to the scene.
Act 2 Quiz
Cecily is being
Please use the word "scepticism" in a sentence of your own.
Cecily contradicts herself here. Contradictions are a common occurrence in this play.
How did Lady Bracknell get Gwendolen's maid to tell her where Gwendolen went?
What does this stage direction tell us about the way Lady Bracknell feels about the engagements?
Lady Bracknell's question to Jack about Cecily's "little fortune" is a reference to an old tradition: dowry. A dowry is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings to a marriage.
In your own words, please explain what Lady Bracknell means by this statement.
The term "passionate celibacy" is
Lady Bracknell appears to know Miss Prism. If you remember earlier in the play, Chasuble had a flirtatious exchange with Miss Prism. Read on to find out Miss Prism's significance in the play.
What does this detail tell us about Lady Bracknell and Miss Prism?
A perambulator is a baby carriage. (This annotation contains an image)
This reference to a baby in a hand-bag should remind you of a moment earlier in the book.
This statement, like many others in the play, is a contradiction. In your own words, please explain the contradiction.
Why would this news be unpleasing to Jack?
Can you take a guess at Jack and Algernon's father's name? Given what you've read thus far, what do you think his name is going to be?
This statement is
Act 3 Quiz