.. y suitor for her Gwendolen. He just doesn’t make the cut of the upper class bachelors. He isn’t on the roster of the best choice for mothers to make for their daughters.
Quote: “I feel bound to tell you that you are not on my list of eligible young men..” “Curmudgeon” [Lady Bracknell to jack 13] Lady Bracknell is interviewing Jack. She asked him what he knows. He knows nothing. She is glad to hear that.
Lady Bracknell is speaking to Jack of her view of education. She thinks it would hurt the upper class for there to be intellectual people and that it might possibly cause a riot on the royal family, but that problem won’t occur in England because even educating people doesn’t come first, social status does. Quote: “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.” “Caregiver” [Lady Bracknell to Jack 15] Jack has told Lady Bracknell of his origins, found in a handbag at a train station in a cloakroom. In order for her to allow Jack to marry Gwendolen he must produce a parent. Jack can produce the handbag. Lady Bracknell needs to make sure her daughter is chosen the proper man for marriage. She feels Gwendolen needs her to make the choice for her, because they have done so most of her life.
Quote: “You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter-a girl brought up with the utmost care- to marry into a cloak-room and form an alliance with a parcel?” Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax “Architect” [Gwendolen to Jack 10] Jack is telling Gwendolen about how much he admires her since he first saw her. Gwendolen says she knows and that she too has admired him because of his name. She has always known she would marry an Ernest because it is fashionable. Gwendolen is a fraud about being honorable, because the only reason she is in love with Jack is that she thinks his name is Ernest.
This is Gwendolen’s Bunbury, the pretense of love. It has been her goal since the day she met him. Quote: “..and my ideal has always been to love some one of the name Ernest. There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence. The moment Algernon first mentioned to me that he had a friend called Ernest, I knew I was destined to love you.” “Conniver” [Gwendolen to Jack 10] Jack asks if Gwendolen would not love him if his name were not Ernest. Gwendolen starts speaking deliberately smooth and calculated almost too much so to be believable.
She is telling him it is of no matter because his name is Ernest; therefore, she dances around the question. She is trying to cover up the fact that if his name were not Ernest she would not even take a second look at him. Quote: [Glibly]. “Ah! That is clearly a metaphysical speculation, and like most metaphysical speculation has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life, as we know them.” “Oppressor” [Gwendolen to Lady Bracknell 12] After Jack has proposed to Gwendolen, her mother returns to the room and instead of allowing Jack to stand Gwendolen does so and informs her mother of their engagement.
Gwendolen takes control of the situation first. Gwendolen is physically restraining to Jack. She is verbally leashing to her mother, Lady Bracknell. Quote: “Mamma! [He tries to rise; she restrains him.] I must beg you to retire.
This is no place for you. Besides, Mr. Worthing has not quite finished yet.” “Critic” [Gwendolen to Cecily 37] Gwendolen has come to the country house to surprise Jack. She meets Cecily first. They are exchanging polite insults to each other.
Cecily is basically saying; if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it must be a duck. Cecily believes that Gwendolen has tricked Ernest to marry her. The fact is Algy is pretending to be Ernest and is whom Cecily is engaged. Jack is whom Gwendolen is engaged to and Jack is also pretending to be named Ernest. Gwendolen has just learned of the engagement between Ernest and Cecily and they are becoming engaged in a polite grit your teeth argument. Gwendolen lets Cecily know she obviously was raised in an improper style.
Quote: “I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different.” “Caregiver” [Gwendolen to Cecily 39] Jack has told the ladies he doesn’t have a brother named Ernest. Cecily tells Gwendolen; her Ernest is Uncle Jack. That means that neither of the women is engaged to man named Ernest. Ironically after all the jealousy between the women they now have a common cause and unit.
After Gwendolen and Cecily find out they has been lied to, they embrace and Gwendolen tells Cecily she will care for her like a big sister. Quote: “You will call me sister, will you not?” Cecily Cardew “Deviant” [Cecily to Miss Prism 21] Miss Prism has just called for Cecily to come over and do her lessons. Cecily is talking with Miss Prism about her lessons. She tells Miss Prism that she doesn’t want to do her German for she will look ordinary. She doesn’t want to look like everybody else.
She is being vain about her looks. Quote: “But I don’t like German. It isn’t at all a becoming language. I know perfectly well that I look quite plain after my German lesson.” “Loner” [Cecily to Miss Prism 22] Cecily thinks Miss Prism could reform Jack’s brother, Ernest. Cecily begins writing about Ernest in her diary. Cecily uses her Diary as her Bunbury.
Cecily’s sole companion is her diary she puts everything in it she lives her life in the pages. She wishes to remember her every detail of existence. Quote: “I keep a diary in order to enter the wonderful secrets of my life. If I didn’t write them down I should probably forget all about them.” “Dreamer” [Cecily to Algernon 32] Jack has demanded Algernon leave, but he has no intention of leaving. Algernon has asked Cecily to marry him. She begins to tell him they are already engaged and have been for some three months.
She gives him the account of their lives thus far as lived in her dairy a far cry from reality. She has lived out their relationship in her diary. She has dreamed up the man that now stands in front of her. The only problem is that Algy is pretending to be named Ernest. Quote: “On the 14th of February last. Worn out by your entire ignorance of my existence, I determined to end the matter one way or the other, and after a long struggle with myself I accepted you under this dear old tree here..” “Conformist” [Cecily to Gwendolen and then Algernon 43] Gwendolen and Cecily have learned that neither of them is engaged to a man named Ernest.
Gwendolen and Cecily enter the house they are waiting for the men, Algernon and Jack, to enter. Gwendolen tells Cecily what to do and she follows her cue. The men finally enter. They have agreed not to speak first but Gwendolen does so and Cecily praises her then addresses Algernon also. Quote: “Gwendolen, your common sense is invaluable.
Mr. Moncrieff, kindly answer me the following question: Why did you pretend to be my guardian’s brother?” Miss Laetitia Prism “Traditionalist” [Miss Prism to Cecily 21] Cecily is watering the flowers. Miss Prism calls Cecily in to do her lessons. Miss Prism feels Cecily should not do manual labor that is not for ladies to do but for servants.
Quote: “Cecily, Cecily! Surely such a utilitarian occupation as the watering of flowers is rather Moulton’s duty than yours?” “Director” [Miss Prism to Cecily 21] Cecily has just been tending to the flowers. Once Miss Prism has gotten Cecily to come over and sit down, she puts Cecily in order to do her lessons. Miss Prism tells Cecily what she is to do in her studies. As her teacher she must direct her education. Quote: “Your German grammar is on the table.
Pray open it at page fifteen. We will repeat yesterday’s lesson.” “Curmudgeon” [Miss Prism to Cecily 22] Cecily is saying she thinks Miss Prism can reform Jack’s brother. Miss Prism thinks the idea of turning over a new leaf is absurd. She is skeptical that it can be done.
Quote: “..I am not in favour of this modern mania for turning bad people into good people at a moments notice. As a man sows so let him reap.” “Critic” [Miss Prism to Cecily 22] Miss Prism has written a novel herself. Later we find out that her novel is the key to Jack’s true identity. When Miss Prism was younger she was caring for an infant, when she accidentally switched the baby with the book. She placed the infant in her handbag and the novel in the baby carrier. The infant was Jack, whose real name is Ernest.
Miss Prism sees no reason for Cecily to have a diary; she has nothing good enough to write about. Quote: “You must put away your diary, Cecily. I really don’t see why you should keep a dairy at all.” Rev. Frederick Canon Chausable “Caregiver” [Chausable to Jack 26] Jack comes in dressed in funeral garb.
Jack is using the dress as a lie to eliminate his brother, Ernest. After Jack tells everyone his brother is dead, Chausable as a priest gives comfort to Jack. This is a need for priest to allow others to unburden their grief on them. Quote: “Mr. Worthing, I offer you my sincere condolence. You have at least the consolation of knowing that you were always the most generous and forgiving of brothers.” “Critic” [Chausable to Jack 27] Jack says his brother will be buried in Paris.
Chausable is horrified and feels that Jack’s brother was crazy. The Victorian attitude toward Paris is that it is a place of ill repute. Algy is pretending to be Jack’s brother Ernest to deceive Cecily. Quote: “In Paris! [Shakes his head} I fear that hardly points to any very serious state of mind at the last..” “Deviant” [Chausable to Lady Bracknell 50] Lady Bracknell accuses Chausable and Miss Prism of having more than a platonic relationship. She thinks that there are more intimate issues.
Chausable is outraged by the implications. He declares that he is a traditional man of God. Chausable shows his unique individuality to Lady Bracknell. Quote: “I am a celibate, madame.” Theme The Importance of Being Earnest is encompassed in the keeping up of social morals at all costs.
The characters continually lie to keep an indignant moral high ground. They feel that without lying they would be unable to achieve their pleasures of life. Two men, John Jack Earnest Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, use the deception [a Bunbury] that both their names were Ernest, in order to secure marriage to the women they love, Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew. Then there is the ultimate unraveling of their lies, which still ends in their impending nuptials. John Jack Ernest Worthing comes to town to get away from his responsibilities in the country, his ward Cecily Cardew, and to see Gwendolen Fairfax, whom he wishes to propose marriage. In order to come to town he has invented a wayward brother named Ernest.
He has committed the Bunbury that he has come to see his brother, Ernest, who doesn’t exist. He wishes to enjoy the pleasures before attending to his guardian duties. Jack is proclaiming his love for Gwendolen when Algy interrupts with a giggle. Jack wants to know why. Algy is thinking of Bunbury.
Algy has been listening in on Jack and Gwendolen’s conversation. Through the conversation he has found out where Jack lives in the country. He has secretly written down the address. The Bunbury he is thinking about is that he is going to the country house as Ernest to meet Cecily. Algernon has asked Cecily to marry him.
Cecily tells him they are already engaged and that it is written in her diary. Cecily uses her Diary as her Bunbury. She has dreamed up the man that now stands in front of her. The only problem is that Algy is pretending to be named Ernest. Jack admits to Gwendolen and Cecily that he has no brother at all and never did. The fact is Algy is really his brother, as he will find out later.
Algy and Jack have both pretended to be named Ernest to marry the ladies. Now the lies have unraveled. The lady’s figured out that neither of them will marry a man named Ernest and they are both quite mad. The women leave the men alone in the garden. Jack says this must be Algernon’s idea of a Bunbury and Algernon feels this is the epitome of bunburying. This is Algernon’s greatest legacy.
Quote: “yes, and a perfectly wonderful Bunbury it is. The most wonderful Bunbury I have ever had in my life.” In the end, it is shown that there is more truth in many of the characters’ lies than they knew. When Cecily tells Algy that she and he are already engaged and have been for some three months. She gives him the account of their lives thus far as lived in her dairy.
She has lived out their relationship in her diary. She has dreamed up the man that now stands in front of her. Miss Prism has written a novel herself. Later we find out that her novel is the key to Jack’s true identity. When Miss Prism was younger she was caring for an infant, when she accidentally switched the baby with the book. She placed the infant in her handbag and the novel in the baby carrier.
The infant was Jack, whose real name is Ernest. Jack’s parents are really Algernon’s parents also. This means that every time Jack came to town to see Algy he really was seeing his wayward brother. With the truth exposed it also means that Algernon was only lying to Cecily about being named Ernest, because he truly is John Jack Ernest Worthing’s brother. Being earnest is being truthful.
The quote that entails this ideal is on pg. 40 [Algernon to Jack] “Well, one must be serious about something, if one wants to have any amusement in life. I happen to be serious about Bunburying..”.