The Importance of Being Ernest | Sunday Observer

The Importance of Being Ernest

Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest is set in Victorian England in the late nineteenth century. The play revolves around the lives of the characters named John Worthing, Gwendolen Fairfax, Algernon Moncrieff and Cecily Cardew. The predominant themes in the play are courtship and marriage and it opens with the courtship between John and Gwendolen who is Algernon’s cousin. John goes by the name of Ernest in London and he is known as Jack in his country home in Hertfordshire. John invents a fictional brother named Ernest who is always getting into trouble so that he can escape the boredom of the country and indulge in pleasure in London. Algernon also invents a fictional character named Bunbury who is an invalid in order to avoid unpleasant situations. Algernon poses as Jack’s brother Ernest and visits his country home because he wants to meet Cecily.

The climax of the play occurs when John finds out the true nature of his birth. When John was a baby he was deposited into a hand bag that was lost and he was adopted by the gentleman who found him.

The fictional characters of Ernest and Bunbury reveal the double life of John and Algernon, and Wilde critiques the hypocrisy of Victorian society through the farce and satire in the play.

Reviewed by Ryhanna Salie  

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