The Importance of Being Earnest

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Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ A Trivial Comedy For Serious People is a play about two friends Jack Worthing and Algernon (Algy) Moncrieff. In order to get away from their lives the two men invent fictitious characters to explain their absence (Jack invents Earnest while Algy invents Bunbury) from the country in Jack's case and town in Algy's. To complicate matters the two men then fall in love Jack with Gwendolen, Algy’s cousin and Algy with Jacks ward Cecily. Both women believe the men’s names are Earnest. Even when the two couples become engaged the women are still unaware of the fact that there fiancés names are not Earnest. But despite the lies, the play ends happily for both couples.

In the play Wilde portrait’s being earnest as superficially as possible. It does not mean sincere and fair as the word implies, it simply means having the name Earnest. The characters in the play are inspired and controlled by a hollow and fake set of social standards that have little substance, but are used to sustain social distinctions and social class privileges.

Gwendolen and Cecily who are supposedly madly in love with Algy and Jack aren’t actually in love with them as people but in love with the name Earnest. This becomes apparent when both women clearly point out that they have always wanted to love a man named Earnest, “There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence… [Gwendolen] knew [she] was destined to love...” an Earnest as does Cecily. This is of course absolutely absurd, like most other aspects of the play, a name is trivial. Yet it is only the most trivial, trifling and insignificant details that are crucial to the every day life of Wilde’s ‘personalities’. In the play all the trivial things of life are taken very seriously and all the serious things are taken with genuine frivolity. (Triviality)

“The truth is never pure and rarely simple”, in some cases throughout the play the truth could be interpreted as love,...
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