*** APPRECIATION OF THE PLAY ***
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
BY OSCAR WILDE
The plot of “The Importance of Being Earnest” centers around two characters, who is the same person!
One a good man and named, Jack Worthing and the other, his so called brother, whom he himself has created. He does this to have the excuse to meet his “brother” in London city to have fun, and be freer and doing what he pleased.
He is guardian, of Cecily Cardew, who gets to know about the brother, and secretly falls in love with the fictional brother, who does not exist!!
Jack Worthing has a best friend, and this friend, Algernon Moncrieff, comes to Jack’s home one day, and sees Cecily and falls in love with her. He becomes Ernest to woo Cecily!!
Jack Worthing actually loves Gwendolen Fairfax and she loves him and his name both.
In the course of the play, Lady Bracknell, the mother of Gwendolen, asks Jack about his parentage, and he informs that he was found in a bag in a railway station by Cecily’s grandfather, Thomas Cardew, who had adopted him.
Later events reveal that Jack is actually the son of Lady Bracknell’s sister. And his name indeed was Ernest John.
There is a fun elements associated with the name, Ernest. Both the ladies, want their lovers to have the name and they even to go to change their names. Finally all are happy.
This is a fun play and it makes fun but at what?
It is not just light heated but makes fun at common morals of society and its emphasis on being serious and duty bound.
Oscar Wilde deeply believed that life is very “state of the nature”, Man is both a sinner and saint and on a deeper level, man is just man, with all that he has learnt, acquired, chosen, by influences and has become, and yes, he does face consequences and there is an interplay and conflict between his morals and his innate desires and nature.
He believed too strongly, almost as a determined mission that literature should show all that not bring morality and preaching.
If a writer does that, truth, beauty and the natural - what makes life so special, full of meaning and love- is gone. That was his deep aesthetics.
It shows in the beauty of language, the unserious way in which his characters speak and the full fun and yet deep joy that pervades the play. He thus believed that a play should entertain, and that it is not wrong, but the primary duty of a story to be aesthetic and not moral.
Morality kills aesthetics. He not only believed that, he lived that and his plays fully reflect that.
It most reflects in this play, and you can see the fun that is made around the very word, “Ernest”.
He liberates without preaching, and is that not really, truly, what a living story should do?
He was deeply modern, in fact, far ahead of his times and this play and his writings actually hide a deep loving and caring and life celebrating personality.
He was deep within a beautiful being, and so are his plays such works of utter beauty!!