Review: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde was first performed at St. James Theater 14 February 1895. It is a comedy of high society. A farce on Victorian standards of dating and marriage.
The play opened with great reviews, yet it would also be the end of Mr. Wilde's ability to live amongst Victorian England. I'm choosing not to go into details about Mr. Wilde's personal life (which I wouldn't do anyway), because this is a review of his work, not a judgment on his life.
Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, 16 October 1854 and died in Paris, France, 30 November 1900. It was to Paris he moved after his arrest, trial and imprisonment in England.
It has been several years ago that I read The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890).

The Importance of Being Earnest is a play about two men who attempt, but bungle in hiding identity. Jack or is it Earnest wishes to marry Gwendolen. Algernon is her cousin and he does not think this engagement will go as well as Jack believes it will. Gwendolen's mother is adamant about her daughter marrying a man who will continue to provide her with the lifestyle she is used to having. She also wishes her daughter to marry a man who has a name of family integrity. The play is light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek.
The ending has a slight twist revealed.

I felt this play was okay, I was not impressed, yet glad I read it. It made me a bit more familiar with Oscar Wilde's works. It was my choice to read this play in order to finish The Back to the Classics Challenge.

What stands out to me in this play are two things:
  •  The remarkable difference in 21st century standards of dating and engagement, as opposed to 19th century Victorian standards. 
  • Also noticeable is how men perceive women to be, and that we're lumped together all in one box. I know this is a farce on men and women, yet my serious nature opposes this lumping together of how women are. I've been around enough men to know they are not all alike, women are not all alike either. Enough said on this topic.
I read the play from The Norton Introduction to Literature, 4th Edition---1973.
49 pages
I bought my copy at a used book shop in Arlington, Texas.

I read this play for Back to the Classics Book Challenge. Also, The Classics Challenge apart of my 50 reads in 5 years.

Free From Gutenberg Project:


  1. See, I loved this play. I thought it was hilarious and witty! I would love to see it performed live though, instead of reading it alone. -Sarah


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