The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde’s madcap farce about mistaken identities, secret engagements, and lovers entanglements still delights readers more than a century after its 1895 publication and premiere performance. The rapid-fire wit and eccentric characters of The Importance of Being Earnest have made it a mainstay of the high school curriculum for decades.

Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax are both in love with the same mythical suitor. Jack Worthing has wooed Gwendolen as Ernest while Algernon has posed as Earnest to win the heart of Jack’s ward, Cecily. When all four arrive at Jack’s country home on the same weekend the “rivals” to fight for Ernest’s undivided attention and the “Ernests” to claim their beloveds pandemonium breaks loose. Only a senile nursemaid and an old, discarded hand-bag can save the day!

The Importance of Being Earnest is an incredible play that can be read in a few hours. It’s bizarre and has more plot twists than most modern murder mysteries but its a classic that’s exciting to read!

As someone who only really likes love stories when they’re subplots or veiled by lots of humor / horror / adventure, The Importance of Being Earnest is a favorite of mine. The characters are ridiculous and the fun poked at social status, masculinity, and marriage was ahead of Wilde’s time. For me, that makes it all the more intriguing to read more than a century after its publication.

I strongly recommend this one and also strongly recommend reading a version with notes and a glossary – goodreads recommends Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Edition – that translates Wilde’s phrases into modern terms; otherwise, his humor will fall flat on the page.

Synopsis from

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.