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The Importance of Being Earnest and Four Other Plays

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  7,370 ratings  ·  75 reviews
The Importance of Being Earnest and Four Other Plays, by Oscar Wilde, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

    New introdu
Paperback, 416 pages
Published December 1st 2003 by Barnes Noble Classics
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Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, drama
Reading The Importance of Being Earnest for the Victorians! group.

Finished The Importance of Being Earnest (loved it!) and putting it back on the to-read shelf until I read the others.

Having read all the plays in this volume, Earnest is my favorite. Three of the other plays are also comedies. Lady Windermere's Fan and A Woman of No Importance both have a fallen woman theme and are a bit melodramatic, particularly the latter. There is a lesson here, as certain other characters, who start out a bi
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
oscar wilde got mad jokes
Avery (ThePagemaster)
Note: Though this is a collection of Oscar Wilde's plays, I only read The Importance of Being Ernest. All I have to say, is that I was a bit disappointed.

I LOVED Picture of Dorian Gray, and I was expecting this play to be the comedy that people profess it to be. I'm not sure whether I was pressured to reading this, because this was a school-assigned read, or what, but I just had a bit of a hard time, especially with trying to connect to the characters, who acted so selfish and naive. I might giv
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
i'm gonna be real i read this whole book just waiting to know what part i was gonna play in an ideal husband ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So I read Earnest again. Second time in a month. Absolutely love it, of course, though I think it is better performed rather than read. Also the footnotes in this particular version aren't terribly informative.
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It took me a few years but I finally finished this bindup of Wilde plays and really loved them all but Ideal Husband was my favorite and is still my favorite non-Shakespeare play.
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love Oscar Wilde! I've completed the first play "Importance of Being Earnest" I'll pick the book up at another time and read another play soon. I truly enjoyed Earnest, not just the story, but reading the format of a play was equally as enjoyable.
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fantastic fun, and filled with Wilde's highly effectual satire of societal modes and manners.
Tallon Kennedy
More often than not, when people carry inflated egos and view themselves as geniuses, they are highly over-valuing their skill and ability; but perhaps Oscar Wilde was an arrogant arse precisely because he knew how brilliant he was. His plays are masterful, skillfully toying with irony, gender, morality, and convention-- building plots and weaving characters through the mirages of appearance and the manipulation of surfaces. Wilde accomplishes something wildly (haha) contrarian to the convention ...more
Cole Simmons
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
The five plays are:
* The Importance of Being Earnest
* Lady Windermere's Fan
* An Ideal Husband
* A Woman of No Importance
* Salome

The stories are fine; you read or watch Wilde's plays not for the plot, but for the wit. Peak Wilde is 3 couples sitting at a party, bickering about the customs of Society (anthropomorphized) with strongly-held, hypocritical opinions. If you've read one and didn't like it, you probably won't like the rest. They all follow roughly the same beats and have roughly the same
It's almost impossible to not love The Importance of Being Earnest. Nearly 120 years since it was written and first performed, it is still one of the funniest plays in existence. There is actually a point to it -- like my reading material of last week, E.M. Forster's A Room with a View, the play humorously skewers the emphasis of the Victorian upper classes on maintaining the appearance of moral uprightness -- but Earnest is an exercise in wit and pure silliness first, and a social commentary se ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
There is a reason the Oscar Wilde is such an amazing author. I adored the Picture of Dorian Gray and I loved four of the five plays in this book. The twists and turns of each play kept me wanting to read the next one and see how Wilde was going to surprise me next. Not only is he witty but he always shows a depth of character.

I am leery of collections of stories/plays because I hardly ever like the majority of them. I took a chance on this set because I knew that Oscar Wilde was extraordinary. H
Michael Quigg
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very clever, with memorable characters and quotable wit.
♛ cameron ♛
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
For a play, this dialogue was so stilted
Oct 17, 2020 added it
Oscar Wilde class:
"The Importance of Being Earnest"
"An Ideal Husband"
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Important of Being Earnest is the most famous composition by Oscar Wilde. It is as thought provoking as The Picture of Dorian Gray but exceeds the latter. It attacks the conventional value of nineteenth Century England, expecailly the view to love, in a humourous and light-hearted way. Whereas The Picture of Dorian Gray sends chill down my spine when I was reading. The subtle evilness and malice that evolves from the pursuit of beauty and happiness, which gradually changes the pure, beautifu ...more
Andrew Svihel
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Importance of Being Earnest: 5/5 This is an absolutely hilarious play from page one until the end. I had the privilege of acting in it in high school, and I still remember that time as an absolutely wonderful experience. The writing in it is pristine and spotless, which is vital in plays with a lot of dialogue and little action such as this one.

This volume includes some previously cut content from the first edition that is hard to find elsewhere. Ultimately--though, it doesn't add all that m
Mar 13, 2013 rated it liked it
My Thoughts on The Importance of Being Earnest:

- The movie adaption of this was kinda corny, but I found the play quite humorous! I liked it a lot better!

- Algernon is funny. He is very clever and witty. Sometimes he can be a bit egotistical, but I like his character.

- Cecily is such a dreamer! I can't believe she isn't embarrassed by some of the things she has in her diary. I would never let anyone read my journal, let alone a diary like the one Cecily keeps.

- Jack and Algernon's bickering is
Jul 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
All five of Oscar Wilde’s most famous plays in one handy-dandy volume: Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, Salome, and, of course, The Importance of Being Earnest, easily the best of the bunch. It’s a comedy of manners about two well-to-do ne’er-do-wells who must both pretend to be the same fictitious character, Ernest Worthing, in order to successfully woo their respective sweethearts. Because a girl can’t trust a man if he isn’t Ernest, right? Yes, it’s a silly p ...more
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review and rating refer to The Importance of Being Earnest only.

Though written in 1894, Wilde's work is surprisingly modern. Subtitled "A Trivial Comedy for Serious People", it is a mashup of mistaken identities, social satire, biting ironies, and one-liners worthy of our late-night talk shows.

You can finish the breezy eighty-some pages in one sitting, but don't read it in public. You don't want to be mistaken. To most people, only a lunatic would LOL alone without a bluetooth hanging on hi
Jonathan Chao
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I would recommend The Importance of Being Earnest because it chronicles an adventure between Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff in a humorous and playful way. In the story, Jack and Algernon work through their romantic lives and play with deception. Oscar Wilde uses a play on words between earnest and Ernest where both Jack and Algernon take up the name Ernest to capture a love interest. Wilde uses the word earnest and Ernest interchangeably because every time the name Ernest is used, it is us ...more
Nov 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
It took me a long time to get through all of the plays, probably because of the timing (final exams and holiday parties).
Each one of these plays was unique.
The first one (The Importance of Being Earnest) was very funny. It was nice start to the set of plays because it really introduced me to Wilde's style. I don't quite remember all of the details because I read this one back in November.
Lady Windermere's Fan was good too, and I feel like I should describe as "scandalous".
A Woman of No Importan
Jeni Enjaian
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have to place this disclaimer at the outset of my review. I am not a huge fan of reading plays. (Now that I think about it and add plays to the list, I really primarily enjoy works of non-fiction--usually history--and full length novels. Nothing wrong with that, right?)

To the review of the book itself:

I enjoyed the first play (also the title play) "The Importance of Being Earnest" the most. This is likely due to the fact that I have likely read it before and am familiar (from other references)
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Oscar Wilde delivers a funny and twist-turning story in The Importance of Being Earnest. His characters' dialogue is punny and amusing to read. The story itself keeps you engaged the whole time. As for the other four plays, I enjoyed Lady Windermere's Fan and The Ideal Husband since they delivered the same level of wit and excitement as The Importance of Being Earnest. A Woman of No Importance dragged on a bit, but was satisfying by the end, and Salome was completely lost on me. I would attempt ...more
Juan David
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Oscar Wilde is better known not only for being a homosexual, but regardless of that, for his amazing usage of wit in his plays and his novels. Comedy as understood today may perhaps not be equal to comedy as it was understood by Oscar and Victorian society in the 1800s. But whatever the differences may be, Oscar Wilde's masterpiece "The Importance of Being Earnest" stands as one of the most ironic and witty plays of the English canon. Most apparent are his references to codes of domesticity and ...more
May 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
I wish Wilde had dedicated more of his career to novels, as I prefer novels to plays generally. Though none of these plays reach the heights that The Picture of Dorian Gray does, they are all uniquely delightful. Wilde maintains his level of wit in these plays, but does not quite convey as much meaning behind each word as he does in Dorian Gray. Though each play has similar settings and themes, each has a very different plot, which I appreciated. My favorite was An Ideal Husband, the characters ...more
I forgot how conventional Wilde's morality is. Perhaps that's why The Importance of Being Earnest is (supposedly) the most enduring - it deals least with explicit morality, and most with absurd verbal sparring and gymnastics. (What really nails his coffin shut for me, why despite the five stars and my willingness to attend productions of his plays, I actually cannot love him, is his vested interest in impressing everybody else by how much more X he is than they are.)

Have now seen three of these
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Five stars for "The Importance of Being Earnest." No matter how many times I reread it, the absurd, madcap humor of the play proves irresistible. Unfortunately, the other plays in this collection suffer by comparison. They tend to be less witty and more self-important, as characters make long speeches about the relations between men and women--the sort of subject that "Earnest" would handle with a pithy one-liner. "An Ideal Husband" was the best of the lot, and "Lady Windermere's Fan" has it's m ...more
Ellie Christene
Jun 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: theatre geeks, theatre lovers, Oscar Wilde lovers
Recommended to Ellie by: Lily
Shelves: plays
This was a hard one to rate, because it wasn't just one story - it was five. Surely, every play wouldn't be rated 3 stars, but that was just a general, overall average rating. I loved The Importance of Being Earnest, it was just perfectly silly and entertaining. Lady Windemere's Fan and A Woman of No Importance were okay, they were very mundane and alike. An Ideal Husband was better, although still a bit boring at times. Salome was just disturbing and weird. There was too much religion in it for ...more
Mar 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
I literally laughed out loud through half of “The Importance of Being Earnest.” It was an utterly ridiculous comedy in which almost everyone is the straight man, and I loved it. My enjoyment of Earnest far outweighed my enjoyment of the others plays (An Ideal Husband, Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, Salome). I did enjoy “A Woman of No Importance” once I managed to keep track of all the characters--especially the interactions between Lady Caroline and her husband John. I would be ...more
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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 ...more

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