While Oscar Wilde himself tends to infuriate me, The Importance of Being Earnest had me in stitches. Even when Wilde annoys me he is incredibly quotab...moreWhile Oscar Wilde himself tends to infuriate me, The Importance of Being Earnest had me in stitches. Even when Wilde annoys me he is incredibly quotable, and this play was no exception.
"I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square." Lady Bracknell, Act I
"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his." Algernon, Act I
"Oh, I don't think I would care to catch a sensible man. I shouldn't know what to talk to him about." Cecily, Act II
"The chin a little higher, dear. Style largely depends on the way the chin is worn. They are worn very high, just at present." Lady Bracknell, Act III
"Gwendolen, it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?" Jack, Act III
As for the play itself, it's the usual satire of late Victorian society obsessed with wealth and status. Jack wants to marry Gwendolyn, only she thinks his name is Earnest and her mother is dissatisfied with Jack's questionably background. Cecily is in love with Jack's brother Earnest whom she's heard so many wonderful stories about. However Earnest is the name Jack uses in the city so that in the country he can maintain his reputation as suitable guardian for Cecily. Jack's friend Algernon has a bit of experience with made up characters as his poor invalid friend Bunbury often requires him to be out of town at the most inopportune times. Somehow Wilde resolves this crazy mess with his signature mix of wit and absurdity.(less)
I don't think I've ever read or watched Shakespeare's tale of the tragic King all the way through before. I was already pretty familiar with the story...moreI don't think I've ever read or watched Shakespeare's tale of the tragic King all the way through before. I was already pretty familiar with the story, though, so I could follow along pretty well with the Libri Vox volunteers' dramatic reading to commemorate the 400th anniversary of its first performance. In the beginning especially it was hard to remember which voices belonged to which characters. In general I think Shakespeare is better either read or watched performed well, but this was alright. I kept wanting to go back and read over sections again to make sure I understood everything they were saying, but I was still able to follow along with the story so it was alright.
The main story focuses around King Lear who has become senile in his old age. He demands statements of affection from his three daughters in order to earn their inheritance. The two oldest flatter their father profusely even though they don't mean a word of what they're saying. The youngest and her father's favorite, Cordelia, states her affection quite plainly, leading her father to believe that she does not love him and so disowns her, leaving the two evil sisters in charge of his kingdom. The minor plot revolves around a similar plot of parents trusting the wrong children as the Earl of Gloucester wrongly favors his illegitimate son (who is working together with Lear's duplicitous daughters), rather than trusting his faithful legitimate son.
I've been slowly reading a book about a research study of the care of dementia patients, so Lear just jumped out at me as an obvious choice. I think losing your wits is something that frightens everyone as they grow older, especially as you try to decide who you can trust to take care of you when you lose the ability to judge if your needs are actually being met. Here both fathers ignore the proof in their hearts and look for superficial proof of devotion only to be quickly disappointed. As with any Shakespeare tragedy, both fathers learn their lesson, but only after paying a very heavy price.(less)
If SYNC YA weren't doing this as one of their free audiobooks for 2013, I don't think I'd ever read this play again. I had to read it for my English S...moreIf SYNC YA weren't doing this as one of their free audiobooks for 2013, I don't think I'd ever read this play again. I had to read it for my English Senior Seminar in college and it was not a fun class. Plus we spent the whole class talking about Caliban and missed all of the Italian intrigue. Thanks to that disastrous first introduction I didn't find myself getting into this BBC Radio Shakespeare production as I have others such as Romeo and Juliet.(less)
This BBC radio recording of Romeo and Juliet is a great combination of the written text with the added dramatic flair of the stage production. I still...moreThis BBC radio recording of Romeo and Juliet is a great combination of the written text with the added dramatic flair of the stage production. I still can't get over how stupid Romeo & Juliet are, and yet I still manage to care a lot about their story.(less)