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The Importance of Being Earnest

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  214,239 Ratings  ·  5,976 Reviews
This final play from the pen of Oscar Wilde is a stylish send-up of Victorian courtship and manners, complete with assumed names, mistaken lovers, and a lost handbag. Jack and Algernon are best friends, both wooing ladies who think their names are Ernest, "that name which inspires absolute confidence." Wilde's effervescent wit, scathing social satire, and high farce make ...more
Audio CD, Unabridged, 2 pages
Published November 28th 2009 by L.A. Theatre Works (first published 1895)
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The Usual Um... You know what the word whore means, right? The characters may all be flippant, glib, and (in your view) irritating, but they aren't whores.

Community Reviews

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Dec 29, 2013 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
When I was quite young – I guess, if you were of a mind to, you might say it was a generation ago – I was listening to a radio program and for some reason they decided to do the handbag scene from The Importance of Being Earnest. I’d heard of the play before, obviously, but only the name. I had thought it would be some terribly dreary thing, having no idea just how funny a man Wilde was. The guy on the radio gave it quite a build up – saying something to the effect that this scene is not just on ...more
Bookworm Sean
“We live in an age of ideals”

Wilde is a genius. This play is genius. What a penetrating critique of high Victorian society this becomes; but rather than being a dull argument or essay, it takes on the body of a hilarious play. This is just absurd, outrageous and straight to the point. This picture says it all to me:


Jack undergoes a great deal of social mobility prior to the events of the play; however, Bracknell, who represents the rigidness of British aristocracy, is very alarmed that such a
Emily May
Jul 13, 2013 Emily May rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, plays
“If you are not too long, I will wait for you all my life.”

Ah, Mr Wilde can always be counted on to make me laugh, to poke fun at the ridiculousness of human behaviour, to tell a story that is both incredibly clever and undeniably silly. The Importance of Being Earnest is a play about mistaken identity, lies, the English class system, and the never-ending vanity and selfishness of high society members. And it's hilarious. It's one of few pre-20th century comedies to have maintained it's laugh fa
Sanjay Gautam
Sep 13, 2016 Sanjay Gautam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some times it makes me wonder that this play was written ages ago. This book seems to be a contemporary classic! It seems there are lots of movies based on the theme of this play. And one more thing I noticed that it has all the spices of an Indian comedy movie.

It's full of witticism and humour, but sometimes so silly that you cannot stop laughing out loud. A fun read that will make you forget your troubles for a while!
Every line in The Importance of Being Earnest is an absolute gem. Remember these?

“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.”

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

“No woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating.”

Just three for a start - I had not realised quite how many of Oscar Wilde's bon mots originated in this particular play, which is subtitled, A
Jan 08, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blog
I have come to a basic conclusion: Oscar Wilde was the man. And this play proves it. Full of zingers, witty banter, the well-crafted insult, and all things that make Wilde, well, Wilde, the play had me laughing out loud at lines like "The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to someone else if she is plain" or, as a resigned Jack realizes none of them may be married, "Then a passionate celibacy is all that any of us can look forward to."

Also characteristic
Henry Avila
Nov 12, 2016 Henry Avila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Algernon (Algy) Moncrieff, is being visited, by his enigmatic friend, Ernest Worthing, that is "Ernest" in town and Jack (John), in the country. It's a long story, but we have time, Mr.Worthing, likes to go to town! Get as far as possible, away from his stifling, depressing, responsibilities at home, change his name to Ernest and becomes his younger brother ( who doesn't exist). Do the wrong things, everybody has secrets, still lies in fact, flow like maple syrup on pancakes, from his lips. ...more
Oscar Wildre was pretty darn quotable, wasn't he:

The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her if she is pretty and to someone else if she is plain.

To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.

In married life, three is company, and two is none.

I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything o
Mar 03, 2016 ♛Tash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah this was delightful, says I while I sip my tea and take delicate bites of my crumpet. That is code for chugging Sunny-D and shoveling pizza bites into my mouth.

This rom-comedy of errors is fantastic. Oscar Wilde elevated throwing shade to everything to such an elegant artform. The banter is clever, the pacing smooth and the twist surprisingly unexpected.

Sass level: Oscar Wilde

A must read and see.
Arthur Graham
Dec 31, 2013 Arthur Graham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I'm Ernest P. Worrell, and I approve this message.


Now, there's been an awful lotta discussion goin' on 'round these parts, lotsa blow-hards and no-brains spoutin' off their own uninformed, silly-ass opinions on the matter, but me I'm fixin' to put an end to all this nonsense, right here right now. Yessiree Bob, that's right -- I'm about to explain to y'all knuckleheads the TRUE importance of being Ernest, so listen up!

Lemme ask you somethin' -- Have you ever survived the Kikakee warrior initiati
Vane J.
Jul 01, 2015 Vane J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oscar Wilde is simply a genius. I could end this review with that statement, but I won't so I can convince you if you haven't read anything by this man.

Honestly, what makes this play so good? Simply put, it's actually nothing. Why? It's just plain ridiculous and foolish, but it made me laugh like nothing had done for a while.

Yet... how could I like something that is, in essence, foolish and I'm constantly complaining about that? Because that's what Wilde pretended. This is not a play with a seri
Comedy is tough to do well, even by those who create it, but it is even tougher to go back and restage past comedies for modern audiences. The easy explanation is that humour is such a product of its time that audiences are simply not capable of getting the jokes -- not truly. There may be something to that, but I think the real problem is more complex, and I think it can be remedied.

Most comedies, particularly those that hold up and become memorable classics, tell their jokes to make a point. G
Nov 18, 2015 Evelina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're not too long,i will wait for you all my life- Gwendolen

Θίγοντας με ειρωνεία την εξαπάτηση στην οποία προβαίνει κανείς για να αποκτήσει -κυριολεκτικά-ένα όνομα που θα παρέχει ασφάλεια και κύρος,ο Ουάιλντ κάνει μια νύξη στα στερεότυπα της αριστοκρατίας του 19ου αιώνα .
Από αυτό το έργο απουσιάζει η χυδαιότητα και η απεριόριστη ματαιοδοξία των χαρακτήρων που τους ωθούν σε τέτοιου είδους προσβλητικές πράξεις,όπως συνήθως συμβαίνει με τους πρωταγωνιστές του Ουάιλντ,καθώς εδώ φαίνεται να το κ
Sumirti Singaravel
Mar 11, 2015 Sumirti Singaravel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who needs a a BIG Laughter
* Never read this book in a crowd.
* Never read this book when you are not alone.
* Never read this book after mid-night.
* Never read this book with the doors of your room kept open.
* Never read this book sitting down on the floor.

...because when I read this book in my room, with the doors open at 1.00 am, my mother woke up from her sleep and got awe-shocked at the manner I was rolling on the floor laughing, asked me, "It's been a long time I saw you laughing this way. What happened? Are you
I started reading this play on the train while commuting, and had to stop myself after reading few pages because I found it impossible to suppress my laughter and as a result of it, I noticed I was attracting reproving looks from my fellow travelers. I can't remember reading anything as hilarious as this play. Wilde is the undisputed master of sardonic wit, which is cleverly employed in his characters' terse and opportune dialogues.

Some savouring quotes inculde:

"To lose one parent may be regard
Dec 31, 2013 David rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Men named Earnest. Or Jack. Or Bunbury.
Plays are generally better heard than read (I find Shakespeare dull as dirt to read, though I enjoy watching his plays), and that is certainly true of this Victorian comedy of misdirection and misunderstanding. Oscar Wilde was in full satiric mode though his humor was perhaps gentler than usual, even though he was sending up Victorian manners and hypocrisy.

Lady Bracknell. [Pencil and note-book in hand.] I feel bound to tell you that you are not down on my list of eligible young men, although I h
Jun 21, 2012 April rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school, classics, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Oscar Wilde is my backup husband, after William Shakespeare.

I don't care that he was gay; he's also dead, but I'm not really making that an issue, am I?
Apr 17, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, plays, classics
I'm totally surprised at how much I liked this! It was really funny and silly and it's a great story. I feel like this is a work that definitely should be remembered unlike a lot of other old works. I would recommend this and I would probably read another work by Oscar Wilde.
Apr 27, 2015 Denisse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Denisse by: Lau
Read for the 2015 Reading Challenge: #47 A play.
And for my 2015 Reading Resolutions: 5 classics

Is there anything more fun than mocking about the upper classes and how they used to think?

Archibaldo es un partido extremadamente aceptable. No tiene nada, pero aparenta mucho. ¿Que mas puede desearse?

Lau dijo que me iba a reir montones con este libro, así que ayer en la noche lo empecé!

Muy buena lectura, bastante amena y sumamente divertida si te gusta burlarte de las clases sociales. *ins
Feb 26, 2016 Yani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Relectura febrero 2016 *

Me propuse hacer las reseñas de los libros de Wilde que tengo leídos, así que ahora es el turno de esta obra. Wilde es un genio de la ironía y el humor, sobre todo cuando la aplica a las convenciones sociales. Me parece que las sonrisas cómplices muchas veces son más hirientes que la contemplación del sufrimiento ajeno, hablando de las críticas, por supuesto.

La obra se podría resumir así: dos amigos, Jack y Algernon, se ven enredados en sus propias mentiras cuando inve
Dec 26, 2013 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, fans of comedies of manners.
One of the best plays I've ever read/been in. This review is going to be remarkably short, because I think experiencing Oscar Wilde is really not something to be done except by actually doing so. The joke of it is ruined otherwise. I will say the play is fast, witty, extremely bright, and incredibly perverse. It is possible to actually make people roll in the aisles on this one. I've read in several sources that even George Bernard Shaw did when he saw this for the first time. The muffins scene ...more
Vimal Thiagarajan
One of those timeless plays that still retains its original charm after innumerable conscious and unconcious repititions of varying degrees in Indian movies. A splendid critique on not just Victorian society but almost any modern society, cooked up in the most palatable form with plenty of wit and irony. Best thing about it is that none of the characters seem to be aware of their hypocrisies, which creates an amplifying mirror of the real world. Will have to read more of Wilde.
Carole (Carole's Random Life)
This was a lot of fun! The full cast was awesome. I am really kind of surprised by how funny I thought it was.
May 29, 2016 Cecily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Almost every line is a gem. Yes, it's all very self-consciously clever, and there are holes in the plot, but that's not the point. Try to pick your favourite 5 quotes from it, or even two dozen - impossible as there are too many contenders.
Ivana Split
Oct 01, 2016 Ivana Split rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wilde deserves his praises; he really is an exceptional playwright. He has a natural instinct for building drama. I regret not ever having had the chance to see any of his works on stage (and this one in particular) but all of her plays are so well adapted to the classical reading experiences, that I can’t say that I mind too much. I believe his plays are as suitable to be read as they are to be performed on the stage. Some writers are good either at one or the other, their plays are either ...more
Nov 14, 2015 Kirstine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what I was expecting when I opened this book. Something broody and serious and deep. Well, it certainly wasn't what I got.

I never expected it too be so funny, and I read it. Plays are so very rarely funny - I mean laugh out loud funny - when you read them, but this one was.

Oscar Wilde is an excellent writer (wow, who knew?) and I'll definitely be more active in reading his stuff. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Though I suspect he might have written this whole thing just so he co
Dannii Elle
Everything, from the play on words in the title to the bumbling main male characters and their misguided attempts at wooing the objects of their affections, made for a a surprisingly witty and charming little play.

Beneath the veneer of this charm lies a penetrating critique of high Victorian society, marriage and morality. Wilde's genius is that he addresses these issues without even seeming to address them at all. The absurdity of the play takes centre-stage (I do love a pun) and it is only wi
Satyrical, witty. Social comments on Victorian way of life. Loved it. Great author.
May 10, 2016 Anastasia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-2011, teatro
"Viviamo, mi spiace doverlo dire, in un'epoca superficiale."

E Oscar Wilde che fa, quindi? Scrive una commedia teatrale per prendere un po' in giro i suoi contemporanei. Con la loro mania dell'etichetta, del trovare il giusto consorte per i propri figli, e tutte le fissazioni superficiali degli inglesi dell'Ottocento. Con tanto di thé bevuto con molto garbo, ma quello non poteva mancare.
Io non impazzisco per Wilde, che diciamocelo, è uno degli autori "classici" più in voga, specie a scuola. Lo l
Ahmad Mustafa
Hilarious , witty , cynical.
The quotations and dialogues that are full of paradoxes are the catch in this play.

The moment that jack discovered that his lies were accidentally true is the climax of this comedy.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Mrs. Warren's Profession
  • Henry V
  • The Pillowman
  • Travesties
  • Long Day's Journey Into Night
  • Trifles
  • Krapp's Last Tape and Other Dramatic Pieces
  • In the Next Room, or the vibrator play
  • The Rivals
  • The History Boys
  • Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde
  • She Stoops to Conquer
  • Noises Off
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being E ...more
More about Oscar Wilde...

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“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” 14140 likes
“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” 5192 likes
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