The Importance of Being Ernest is play that premiered on February 14, 1895 at St. James’ Theater in London, it was the last play written by Oscar Wilde. “Play in three acts by Oscar Wilde, performed in 1895 and published in 1899. A satire of Victorian social hypocrisy, the witty play is considered Wilde’s greatest dramatic achievement. Jack Worthing is a fashionable young man who lives in the country with his ward Cecily Cardew. He has invented a rakish brother named Ernest whose supposed exploits give Jack an excuse to travel to London periodically. Jack is in love with Gwendolen Fairfax, the cousin of his friend Algernon Moncrieff. Gwendolen, who thinks Jack’s name is Ernest, returns his love, but her mother, Lady Bracknell, objects to their marriage because Jack is an orphan who was found in a handbag at Victoria Station. Jack discovers that Algernon has been impersonating Ernest in order to woo Cecily, who has always been in love with the imaginary Ernest. Ultimately it is revealed that Jack is really Lady Bracknell’s nephew, that his real name is Ernest, and that Algernon is actually his brother. The play ends with both couples happily united.”-Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature. You can read more about the history of the Play here.
The book is available to be read free thanks to Project Gutenberg, located here.
The Play has been made into three film versions in addition to numerous radio adaptations. The version we are going to be comparing to the writing is the 2002 film version starring Colin Firth, Rupert Everard, Reese Witherspoon and Judy Dench. I have to admit this is one of my favorite films of all time and I am using this as a shameless excuse to watch it again. A couple of things to think about before reading and watching: the play on the word “Ernest.” What is the significance of the difference of the city and the country? What do you think about some of the leeway the film took getting across a point without adding dialog (tatoo and knight in shining armor)? Do you have a favorite line? I will share mine when the report is posted.
Pop some popcorn and get watching.