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The Importance of Being Earnest

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  300,443 ratings  ·  9,172 reviews
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
Paperback, 76 pages
Published 2005 by Prestwick House (first published February 14th 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.
Isaiah It is about two men who are a bit full of themselves trying to become engaged. The problem being their loves do not know that their names are not trul…moreIt is about two men who are a bit full of themselves trying to become engaged. The problem being their loves do not know that their names are not truly Ernest. (less)
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Sean Barrs
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“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
Apr 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Emily May
Aug 17, 2012 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
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This 1895 play about mistaken and hidden identities is my favorite by Oscar Wilde. One of the wittiest plays ever!

Algernon is visited in his town home by his friend Ernest, who intends to propose to Algernon's cousin Gwendolen. Algernon manages to dig out his friend's secret: his name is actually Jack.


Jack has an 18 year old ward, Cecily, who lives in his country home. So he uses the name Ernest when he is in town so he can live it up a little, and then tells Cecily about his wastrel younger bro
Ashwood (애쉬 우드).
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Hilarious and entertaining read, the wit and sarcasm in this book was outta this world🙃👌🏻
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If you try to take this literally, it is ludicrous, so don’t. It is a delicately crafted confection of spun sugar: sweet but sharp, beautiful, brittle, and engineered to amuse. “An iridescent filament of fantasy”, as critic William Archer described the opening performance on Valentine’s Day 1895.

In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.” Gwendolen

This play is a social comedy that celebrates surfaces: the flexible importance of etiquette (as long as it's under
Henry Avila
Apr 16, 2013 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. That ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde.

The play's major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways.

Some contemporary reviews praised the play's humor and the culmination of Wilde's artistic career, while others were cautious about its lack of social messages. Its high farce and witty dialogue have helped make The
Bionic Jean
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
Apr 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: plays, comedy
I read The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde as part of classics bingo to satisfy my satire square. Educated at Oxford in the late 19th century, Wilde was a product of strict upper class British social mores. He married and fathered two children and then came out as homosexual. Wilde's plays and novellas poked fun at the society which had renounced him and later put him on trial. Earnest received good marks in London prior to Wilde's social downfall and has made a comeback in classic re ...more
L A i N E Y
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who can’t get into Picture of Dorian Gray, like me.
To lose one parent may be regarded as misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness

I wish, with all my heart, someone would ask me “Hey have you read anything by Oscar Wilde?”

Just so I could emphatically say “YES. Yes I have!”

I did feel like I have accomplished some unknown personal reading goal with this: I’ve read Oscar Wilde now. And wasn’t he a riot!

Lady Bracknell, hands down, the MVP of this story. All the best lines were from her ladyship.

I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbu
Sanjay Gautam
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
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!
Jan 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
David Schaafsma
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
“I am sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays.”

I needed a laugh and so I listened to this play that I have read and seen many times, and once I was part of putting together a high school production. It is a play “Of trivialities for serious people,” which is to say that it is intended to be nothing but clever, witty, a send-up of the rich and pompous, of “society.” All the characters are almost indistinguishably shallow and funny. And anything but truly earnest. Which is what J
Umut Rados
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an absolute delight! I read The Picture Of Dorian Gray from Oscar Wilde before. If you haven't read, it's a very good book too. But, I had no idea he wrote such hilarious plays somehow.
I'm so happy I discovered it and I'll keep reading his plays for sure.
If you're looking for really well written, funny plays with charming characters, please read this.
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)

Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
The Importance of Being Earnest is yet another witty and humorous read of Oscar Wild! Most of Oscar Wild works are filled with satire, and here is no exception.

This story represents a section of the upper class society and it features mistaken identity of two men who represent themselves as "Ernest" to their respective love interests. This follows much confusion till the final truth is revealed. And finally when the truth comes out it is interesting to find that both are neither "Ernest" nor "e
Mar 03, 2016 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.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Still extremely popular 124 years after being first produced at the St James Theatre.
Full of Oscar Wilde's characteristic repartee, sparkling wit and epigrams.

The humour is as current today as it was in 1895. Two young man, Jack and Algernon, woo their respective young sweethearts by claming the name of Ernest, creating great confusion.
Due to his seemingly dubious birth, Jack is prevented from marrying his beloved Gwendolyn, by her insufferable guardian, Lady Bracknell, while Jack is not quite h
Arthur Graham
Jul 22, 2013 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
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wilde certainly has a way with words.

I love the complexity and multi layered plot for this. Everything from the title is a play on words, satirical and funny. Although it's relatively short, it's well developed and the characters are fully formed and fleshed out well. Algernon is a firm favourite. He seems to get all the best lines, and his wit is as sharp as a sword. His decision to turn up at Jack's country house as his brother Ernest is this driving force behind the conclusion of the play to
Jun 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
This play doesn't need an introduction or a review. This is Oscar Wilde's most famous piece of work.

The story revolves around four characters John Worthing (who also goes by the name of Ernest), his friend Algernon, Algernon's cousin Gwendolen who loves Earnest (only because of his name!) and John's ward Cecily. So Algernon wants to know more about Cecily and John wants to be engaged to Gwendolen and they are waiting for a suitable opportunity. This play is about mistaken identities, lying male
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing

What a play it is! Such amazing pace and terrific use of humor to speak the 'unspeakable.' Although the play is replete with eligible men pursuing beautiful women, homosexuality looms large over it.

In the opening scene, we meet Lane and his master – Algernon. The very tenor of their talk reveals their homosexuality. Lane married once, but he considers it a big mistake; now he lives with his master. Their relationship demands a certain propriety, but we see how Lane reveals aspects of his persona
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Spoiler alert: There's nothing earnest about this play. Or is there?
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays, classics
Mistaken identities,secret engagements,and lovers entanglements.Crackles with lively dialogue,lots of fun.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Lovely drama by Great writer and poet.

Excellent writing and Candidly flew by all characters.
It comprises of comedy in well defined fashion throughout all Acts.
Glad to read, Awaited for prolong.
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first thing I've ever read from Oscar Wilde. It immediately became one of my favourites. The rest is history.
To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune... to lose both seems like carlessness.
I honestly have no idea how I am to review my favorite play of all time, one of my favorite pieces of literature altogether. Oscar Wilde is such a clever and witty man and he really had a way with words. He is the self-proclaimed "Lord of Language" and "Genius" - oh boy, you really can't read
Vimal Thiagarajan
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Katie Lumsden
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this play, as always. It's so witty, so silly and such great fun. Would highly recommend!
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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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