Chen at 15:44:22 1/15/98 from proxy.secc.fju.edu.tw
|The importance of being earnest is a famous play of Oscar Wilde. The
structure of this play is not complicated, but its plot is various and
has several climaxes. This play also shows us some characteristic of human
nature such as selfish, hypocrisy, and vanity. I think Oscar Wilde wanted
to satirize the high society and made his readers have some ideas.
The main roles of this play are two couples: Jack and Gwendolen, Algernon and Cecily. Jack is more serious than Algernon. On page 273 and 298, Jack complains to Algernon: "Algy, you never talk anything but nonsense" and "You are always talking nonsense". And also, Jack is more serious about marriage, because he once says: "If I marry a charming girl like Gwendolen, and she is the only girl I ever saw in my life that I would marry. I certainly won't want to know Bunbury". Algernon replies: "A man who marries without knowing Bunbury has a very tedious time of it". Algernon, however, has his own values. He thinks himself is serious. On page 296, he says: "One must be serious about something, if one wants to have any amusement in life. I happen to be serious about Bunbury". It sounds ridiculous, but many of us can't deny it. I think Algernon is a person who lives in high society but doesn't want to follow the rules.
As to Gwendolen and Cecily, they both fall in love with the name-- "Ernest", and they say "I pity any woman who is married to a man call John" and "I pity any woman whose husband is not called Ernest". They are very shallow. The fight between theses two women is also the fight between town and country. Gwendolen lives in town, and she laughs at Cecily by that. In the act 2, some dialogues between these two women show us how they fight. For example:
Gwendolen: No, thank you. Sugar is not fashionable any more.
Cecily: Cake or bread and butter?
Gwendolen: Cake is rarely seen at the best houses nowadays.
Cecily's mind is full of imagination. She fantasizes that she had engaged with Algernon but then their engagement had broken off. She pretends that Algernon wrote letter for her and gave her a ring. She seems to love a bad boy. She says: "I have never met any really wicked person before. I feel rather frightened. I am so afraid he will look just like every one else." Maybe she wants to make some changes of her life.
Lady Bracknell is very snobbish. In act 1, she knows that Jack wants to marry Gwendolen, she asks him many questions such as what is his income and what his parents' background. When she knows that Jack was found in a cloak-room of a station, she sweeps out in majestic indignation. In act 3, she didn't agree with the marriage of Algernon and Cecily in the beginning, but when she knows that Cecily owns about a hundred and thirty thousand pounds in the Funds, she says Cecily seems to her a most attractive young lady. She says what she wants to say and never care about whether she hurts others or not. She plays a role to connect through the play flawless.
This play is pregnant with meaning. There is something very interesting. Jack claims that he has a younger brother "Ernest" and "Algernon pretends himself is "Ernest". Finally, Algernon finds that he is "Erneat" and then Jack really has a younger brother "Ernest". This is a perfect arrangement of Oscar Wilde. In the happy ending, he leave
a question for us to think of: Is it more important to be "earnest" or to be "Erneat"?