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The Importance of Being Earnest. By Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). The Importance of Being Earnest. Written in 1895 A Comedy in 3 Acts Is a satire Immediate hit when first performed Criticizes Victorian moral and social values Bridges Victorian period/literature with Modern

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the importance of being earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

By Oscar Wilde

(1854-1900)

the importance of being earnest2
The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Written in 1895
  • A Comedy in 3 Acts
  • Is a satire
  • Immediate hit when first performed
  • Criticizes Victorian moral and social values
  • Bridges Victorian period/literature with Modern
  • Uses wit, puns, exaggeration, and wordplay to create humor
main characters
John Worthing, aka “Jack”, aka “Earnest”

Algernon Montcrief, Jack’s friend

Lane, the butler for Algernon

Rev. Chausible, the preacher in the country

Lady Bracknell, mother of Gwendolyn

Gwendolyn, wants to marry a man named “Earnest”

Cecily, Jack’s ward

Miss Prism, Cecily’s governess

Main Characters
settings
Settings
  • Time: Around 1890
  • Place(s):
  • London (“the City”)
  • Jack’s House in the Country (a very large estate)
  • The village church
settings5
Settings
  • Jack’s Country House
settings6
Settings
  • Jack’s Drawing Room
settings7
Settings
  • Lady Bracknell’s mansion in London
victorian period
Victorian Period
  • Named for Queen Victoria of England
  • Was Queen from 1837-1901
  • Followed the reign of “Mad” King George
  • The culture was very moral and serious
  • Women were expected to be the “angel in the house” - to take care of their husband and family
queen victoria
Queen Victoria
  • Became Queen as a young girl
  • Married Albert, Prince Consort and adored him
  • After he died, she wore black for the rest of her life
  • Had 9 children
  • Created a culture that valued family and stability
victorian period10
Victorian Period
  • Manners were supremely important
  • English society was divided into classes
  • The Upper-class was well-educated, came from a rich and respected family (“old money”), and having good manners mattered more than anything else
  • Considered bad manners to flaunt wealth
victorian period11
Victorian Period
  • Young women were always chaperoned until they were married
  • Women’s clothing covered them from neck to ankle; clothes had to be modest
  • In the upper classes, people with a bad reputation were outcasts no matter how much money they had
  • Good manners were extremely important
victorian fashion
Victorian Fashion
  • For the Gentlemen
victorian fashion13
Victorian Fashion
  • For the Ladies
victorian period14
Victorian Period
  • People did not just “drop in” to visit - they made formal appointments
  • Refreshments were expected when visitors came to “call” (visit) - usually tea and cake or tiny, elegant cucumber sandwiches
  • Men were expected to be well-educated
  • Women were expected to marry well
oscar wilde author
Oscar Wilde - Author
  • Born in Ireland; lived in England and abroad
  • Attended Trinity College in Ireland and Oxford University in England
  • Very witty and funny
  • Believed in the value of “art for art’s sake” - art (literature) should not be concerned with political issues
  • Wrote several plays, but only one novel
  • Novel: The Picture of Dorian Gray
oscar wilde
Oscar Wilde
  • With other writers and artists, rebelled against the prim, moral, religious culture of Victorian England
  • Was known to be wild, flamboyant, witty
  • Although homosexual, married and had children
  • Being homosexual was illegal, and he served time in prison for it
oscar wilde17
Oscar Wilde
  • Handsome
  • Loved clothes
  • Could be quite dramatic
  • Completely unique
oscar wilde18
Oscar Wilde
  • Came from upper-class family
  • Brilliant writer
  • Loved to shock people
  • “Bad Boy” of his time - The ‘Lil Wayne’ of his day (but well-educated)
oscar wilde19
Oscar Wilde
  • Never allowed to see his family again
  • Spent the remainder of his life in Paris
  • Died alone and poor in Paris
literary vocabulary
Literary Vocabulary
  • Comedy - light-hearted literature with humor and a happy ending
  • Satire - literary writing that makes fun of or criticizes the faults of people or groups. Purpose is to point out flaws
  • Wit - using words to be clever and funny with language
  • Pun - a play on words
literary vocabulary21
Literary Vocabulary
  • Protagonist - the main character
  • Foil - the character who contrasts the main character (the foil “reflects” the traits of the main character)
  • Blocking figure - A character, often old and cranky, who interferes with the romantic desires or the other main characters and provides comic action
literary vocabulary22
Literary Vocabulary
  • Motif - a recurring character or element repeated in a literary work. Food is a motif in The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Protagonist - the main character
the importance of being earnest23
The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Oscar Wilde created many amusing quotes
oscar wilde quotes
Oscar Wilde Quotes
  • “I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself. “
  • “I can resist everything except temptation. “
oscar wilde quotes25
Oscar Wilde Quotes
  • “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train. “
  • “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”
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The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Even though this play was written more than 100 years ago, it continues to be very popular
  • More than one movie has been made of this play, the most recent in the past 5-10 years
  • This play is currently being performed on Broadway in New York City (through June)
importance of being earnest
Importance of Being Earnest
  • The title of the play is a pun.
  • To be “earnest” means to be serious, and the main character (John/Jack) uses the name “Earnest” when he is in the city
  • “Bunburying” is using an alias to “get away with” avoiding social obligatioins
importance of being earnest28
Importance of Being Earnest
  • What have you learned so far?
  • Know the characters, the setting, the plot
  • Know the basic facts about the author
  • Know the basic facts of Victorian England
  • Know the literary vocabulary required
  • Understand that this play is a comedy
importance of being earnest29
Importance of Being Earnest
  • You have come to the end of the PowerPoint
  • You are ready to begin the play!
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